Leader Writer : Paojel Chaoba
The general outlook of the public perceives a brand new car as a status symbol, a must have if one is an employee of the government or running a private enterprise.
The introduction of new vehicles into the market inclusive of commercial line vehicles likes the diesel autos, goods carriers and of course, the brand new shiny automobiles have taken the limited road space available at the general Imphal area.
Irrespective of the fuel scarcity prevailing due to the imposed economic blockade by the Sadar Hills District Demand Committee which has broken all prior existing record of the state for the longest blockade in history and nearing a time span of three months, the Monday morning traffic jams are still visible enough and traffic police has still got enough work on their hands.
The planning and the lines along which the state government proposes on how to solve the issue remains a murky state of affairs and time will tell how the issue will be resolved.
There is a saying that for sustenance, if one wants to plan for some months then to plant vegetables, if for a year then to plant rice, for multiple years to plant fruit bearing trees and for a lifetime, to plant ‘people’. Along the general lines of this proverb, it may be assumed that we need to have a sense of futuristic insight and act on it. The current works of the JNNURM, Naga Nullah, widening of the major roads etc. are favourable for the populace in the years to come. But the government must also consider the fact that due to the rising number of vehicles , the pollution level is also on the rise which has posed serious crisis of health, traffic, noise and climatic factors.
The Imphal Municipality area with an area of over 30.75 Sq.Km as the hub of urbanization,like any urban city in future and at present faces serious challenges ranging from population influx and growth, atmospheric pollution, transportation problems with the increasing number of motorized vehicles on the road, and related health hazards to an epidemic level. As propagated in other cities globally, one feels the need to promote and popularize the concept of using bicycles as a viable means of transport within the Imphal municipality areas is a must to bring about an answer to the mounting challenges of public health, economy and environment.
Statistically, the Directorate of Transport receives 35 applications for registration on an average working day. By the end of 2010, the total number of registered vehicles crossed 1,98,889 and by December 2011, the state roads will witness another 10,500 vehicles approximately.
The financial institutions still provides loans for motor vehicles unchecked and new automobiles are bought at whim by the opulent section, if the trend continues, how far will widening of the roads address the situation is left to anybody’s guess.
Considering the facts, initiating a culture of cycling in and around Imphal city and its adjoining areas is a dignified and responsible choice in mitigating the challenges of urbanization, environmental pollution and responsive to climate change.
It would be a positive initial step if the state government announces the Kangla Fort a green zone and prohibit entry of motorized vehicles in its premises. Cycles can be hired out to tourists and visitors alike to take in the scenic views and rich cultural heritage that the Kangla Fort has to offer, there would be negligible carbon and sound emissions and the trend of cycling can also be propagated in this manner for starters. Cycle lanes, parking areas can also be developed along the city areas.
With the current scenario of other more pressing matters at hand inclusive of the law and order situation, the cycle issues may seem negligible. But as mentioned before we need to plan for the future and plant the ideas which will prove that the government and society undertook a visionary approach that proper planning and execution, plus a holistic approach will make landmarks in the history of the state. We must endeavour to leave behind a green legacy for the children of tomorrow.