From Mangminthang Gangte
BUNGLON (CCPur), July 8: Great name, but bumpy in parts. No, you don’t have to look far to solve this puzzle. Just drive down the ‘Dr Kalam Road’ and the jigsaw pieces will fall into place. The name might sound great, but the road did not serve the people greatly. And the road to render enormous service as great as its name still remains a pipedream.
Monsoon rains never fail to bring smiles to millions of farmers across the country. But when monsoon rains started to hit the terra firma here, ghost of bad road condition haunts the pineapple farmers of Bunglon area in Churachandpur district. It is not the rain that makes them cry but the pitiable road connectivity that disturbs their peace, and the ghost begins to haunt them from this point.
Around 10 villages in Bunglon area – including Khousabung, Bunglon, Ningthiching, Phunchongjang, Kangathei, Khoirentak, Harmontlang, S Nabil etc – of CCPur district have been engaged in pineapple farming. This fruit is their only source of livelihood since many decades back. The only road link to this compact area to other places/markets like CCPur headquarters, Imphal and Moirang is the three-and-a-half kilometers road from Moirang Power House to Bunglon, which the locals had named after former President of India, Dr Abdul Kalam as a tribute to his visit to the area in 2006.
The importance of the road gains impetus at this time of the year. Around 90 lakh of pineapple are exported to various markets of the state via this road annually. Though this road remains as the lifeline for many poor and marginalized tribal villagers, the road condition remains at its worst. The sad thing is that nothing has been done by the government that-be to improve the condition of the road.
This Kew variety of pineapple has been extensively grown in the area since many years back. Realising the economic prospective, the farmers have scripted many success stories over the decades. As it is a perishable product, the fruit needs special attention when it is ripe. A slight delay in marketing during its peak season amounts to heavy loss in terms of money and energy. Therefore, it either calls for the setting up of a processing units/cold storage or smooth means of transportation.
“Keep aside working for the welfare of the farmers in the field, the government has never bothered to improve our road,” bewailed Hesieh, a progressive pineapple farmer. “The condition of the road is thus a standing testimony of the negligence on the part of the government,” he added.
It is worth mentioning here that the road had once been blacktopped in 2006 when the then President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam had a short stopover at Bunglon village upon the invitation of Gin Gangte, the then headmaster of Bunglon High School. The locals named the road as ‘Dr Kalam Road’ as a souvenir to his visit. The authority had in jiffy constructed the road in few days and that did not even take a week time. The answer to that instantaneous deed of the authority that-be was the superficiality of the ‘slipshod’ construction work, which soon badly needed renovation at the earliest.
Five good monsoons have passed since that high profile visit to the area. The rain water might have inundated the thinly ‘blacktopped’ surface of the road by this time. Yet no action has been seen as an attempt to renovate the road.
With the onset of the monsoon and at the time when this road needs a good shape, the service roads cut a sorry figure with huge potholes and cesspools of water. Pointing the uneven, tardy and the road that looks like a water pool from a distance, an aggrieved pineapple farmer, Henmang Khongsai said, “We want to preserve this neglected road to remind ourselves of the apathy of the government toward us.” “If the government is interested in the welfare of farmers, precisely pineapple farmers, it must act. The ball is in their court,” he added.
“Had we have such devices like cold-storage and processing units, we might have kept the produces at our own discretion. And as such weren’t, we need to transport the fruit to other markets to avoid wastage,” said Amang.