Why must the Manipur administration insist on always putting its best foot forward and then shooting it? A little while ago, despite some hiccups, the public were all praise that the busy Paona and Thangal Bazars had been cleared of congestion by the provision of an alternate parking area at Nagamapal all along the Naga drain and Nambul Turel stretch, and the strict forbidding of parking of vehicles of all classes in these two commercial streets. Today, the situation is returning back to the chaos that once was, with vehicle users without any scruples bringing in their vehicles and parking them wherever they wish in these streets. After all the heartache caused by the eviction of poor vegetable vendors along Nagamapal so as to create this parking space, professedly in the greater interest of the public and for the ease of life in this capital city, this is a great let down. Indeed from the vantage of the evicted vendors, this is nothing short of an official betrayal. If this was to be this way, what use was it in the very first place to cause so much of trauma by uprooting the poor vendors from their places of petty businesses.
Let the authorities wake up. Let all that it has done in the regard not go in vain. Let it also not be said that what impoverished vendors of Nagamapal were made to sacrifice for the much hyped claims of a greater common good in a deceitful ploy by the government. If it has made a regulation, the government must ensure that it is enforced too, for indeed, any rule or regulation can have no meaning until it is made mandatory for the citizens to follow. The idea of making the entire Paona and Thangal Bazar a no-parking zone was brilliant, it must not be abandoned. Regardless of who is behind the wheel, VIP or security top brasses, all vehicles must be forbidden to park in the area. This is important for it has always been the case that those who set the precedent of breaking traffic and parking norms are those belonging to these classes of vehicles. Once they have created a breach in the norms, it is only but natural for everybody else would follow suit sooner than later, ultimately returning chaos back on the streets. Perhaps it would also be in the fitness of things for the government to designate daylight hours as the ban period for residents of these commercial streets who own motor vehicles would have to park their vehicles somewhere safe. At this moment, since there are no organised 24×7 monitored parking area, the safest place for vehicles to be parked at night is near the residences of the owners. This is also a reminder that Imphal has grown enough to deserve a few such 24×7 car and two-wheeled vehicle ports. This is very much a need of a city and our city planners cannot afford not to factor this in their plans for Imphal city’s near future.
Let the authorities be tough with the tough and soft with the soft. This is one such occasion when it is expected to be tough, and an uncompromising stand now would be very much appreciated by everybody. Before vehicle users become conditioned into believing the new parking regulations are nothing to be seriously taken, or that laws are meant to be broken, let the government crack its whip. Let it begin imposing punitive and proportionately stiff fines on violators, and if need be think of other penalties such as imprisonment for those resolute on not abiding by the regulation. It must not, as we have reiterated before, allow exceptions at all, for this would ultimately amount to encouraging more and more similar exceptions until things are back at square one. We would even suggest the government to encourage a return to the bicycle to the extent possible. It could for instance make the Imphal city centre a cycle zone, allowing only bicycles and pedestrians to enter. This would not only reduce the traffic congestion in the city, but also be a health statement both for the people as well as for the environment. It would also quite obviously save precious petrol. Again if cycles become the norm in Imphal and indeed the rest of the state, accidents would suddenly be much less fatal too. Banning of parking inside the Paona and Thangal Bazars do not seem impossible or impractical anymore. Since the two streets dovetail each other and run in a long straight line parallel to the Nagamapal-Waheng Leikai roads all along. For then the Nagamapal parking should take care of the needs of all shoppers using motor vehicles. Depending on where they want to shop, they can park at the nearest point on the Nagamapal parking. What the government could do to facilitate this would be to build more foot bridges across the Nambul River and Naga drain, to link the Nagamapal parking to the two commercial streets.
Thangal and Paona keithels are the two largest shopping centers at Imphal city. Shoppers wish to access these centers with shortest and easiest commute and convenience. So the idea of shifting the parking areas way away from these places will not work. The best thing is to plan multi storey or underground or metered street box parking systems either by goverment or private parties to solve this problem. Or else plan mega parking lots outside the crowded places and have smooth/frequent city bus rides from these parking lots to the shopping centers. Having these parking systems will help generate jobs and revenues and change the way the Imphal city manages. This is how the big cities in developed countries manage cities and town with ease and generate revenues.