Imphal city is getting more and more oppressive. Traffic jams are today a daily routine, the city’s road infrastructure, especially in the suburbs are beginning to rot again, drinking water supply has not improved one bit even though it is not yet the dry season, electricity despite the PIL induced disciplining drive is still far less than adequate, the poor are getting poorer, the contractor-bureaucrat-minister cabal is getting more blatant in their organised looting of public exchequer, corruption in public places is getting even more institutionalised, law and order despite official claims (which are based on reduction of overt violence alone) is not any better for the undercurrent of public insecurity is still very much a reality, the “Clean Imphal Campaign” which was once launched with fanfare has done precious little for the city is getting progressively buried in its wastes, the Imphal Sewerage Project remains incomplete rendering many stretches of important commercial roads, including the RIMS Road, unapproachable, thereby throwing many shops and other business establishments along it out of business… the list of maladies can go. The worse thing is, the government seems the least bothered, and more than even this, the public are ready to tolerate all this as if they were miseries written in their destiny.
Traffic light system has been introduced at some of the major junctions. The move is commendable but there needs more to be done for despite it, the rush hour traffic jam is getting ever more frustrating. Many motorists still lack basic traffic etiquette and do not believe in queues. Without a thought for those in the queue they would try to overtake from any side and try to squeeze through not caring one bit in doing so they worsen the traffic chaos. Instead of recruiting only armed constabularies, accelerating in the process, the militarisation process, the government should begin thinking in terms of investing more on the softer and social side of policing. For instance it must upgrade its traffic police too and not just police armoury. Alongside traffic policemen or women at the traffic island, mobile policemen on motor vehicles to give chase and punish traffic violators should be employed. The pitiable sight of motorists disregarding with impudence signals and sometimes reprimands of these men and women in uniform is becoming all too common. It is also time for big vehicles not to be allowed within certain radius of the city heart. They must either be made to bypass the city if their destinations are not the city, and if the destination is indeed the city, they should be allowed entry only after city shut down, for instance after 9pm. Above all, city planners must encourage the return of bicycles. There is already a group of young men and women pushing the issue and their pleas must be given attentive ears. But in the long run, Imphal city must have ring roads around it, perhaps two concentric ones, so that all motor vehicles are kept out of the city heart. In this, the role model to look for, are in so many spanking clean cities of Europe and America.
The traffic mess is just the most visible and urgent. Otherwise there are so many other areas where massive cleanup exercises are still awaiting. Just to take one case, despite so many other government decrees banning the use of plastic bags, why are they still everywhere? It is such an oppressive sight to see piles of these non bio-degradable materials of all hues in every corner of the city and residential localities. The government must come out strongly and ban their use once and for all. If shoppers are made a little inconvenient by this it must be seen as the price everybody must pay to save our living environment, and ultimately the ecology too. Everybody would have seen how the Nambul River used to get clogged irredeemably by these plastic bags, and it is anybody’s guess that a good majority of it would be carried along to be deposited at the Loktak Lake. On the question of electricity and water shortage, since the government claims that once state-of-the-art infrastructure now under installation are ready these services would be augmented, let them be for the time being. However, what is exactly the problem which is inordinately delaying the Imphal Sewerage Project. The government must come clean on this for it is ruining many livelihoods other than inconveniencing practically every commuter in the city.