IMPHAL, October 24: In a landmark event, the Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh today inaugurated the longest bridge of the state, ‘Serou Bridge’ over the Chakpi river, at Serou, Thoubal.
Over 15 thousand people from Sugnu constituency, Thoubal, Chandel and other parts of the state turned up to witness the grand event. A formal inaugural function was also held at the Serou public ground.
The 253.35 metre long bridge constructed at a cost of Rs 19 crore has been branded as an ‘engineering marvel’ of the state works department by principal secretary works and transport, Ram Muivah while delivering his welcome speech.
The bridge which many people thought to be an impossible dream has been proved wrong by the department by completing the bridge within a record time of two years, he said.
The width of the bridge is 12.0 metre including footpath with 27 span of 8.0 metre each. The construction of the bridge was started on February 28, 2008 and completed in September 20, 2011 under the special plan assistance (SPA) fund, said the official of the department.
Speaking during the inaugural function as the chief guest Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh said “the most joyous moment of a government is handing over a completed project or infrastructure to its people as promised”.
He clarified that the bridge was build for the benefit of the people and not for earning political mileage and asserted that the SPF government motto is equal opportunity for all.
Everything that has been achieved by the present government is due to team work rendered from all the departments, fellow legislators and especially the support of the people, said the Chief Minister.
At the same time, he also boldly declared that the Congress will clean sweep all seats of Thoubal district in the coming general election and further assured to look into the matter of upgrading Sugnu constituency into municipality status.
Works and Transport minister, K. Ranjit, who is also a native of Serou village, while addressing the gathering said, “My long cherished dream has turned into a reality today”.
While recalling the grim past faced by hundreds and hundreds of villagers of Serou and nearby areas, he said that besides inconveniences faced by the villagers while trying to cross the Chakpi river in the absence of a bridge, many precious lives have been lost in the violent Chakpi river.
He claimed that the people here from all walks of life has faced enough hardship and asserted that he himself was a victim of the unpredictable river that changes its course from time to time.
He further claimed that he had been dreaming of a bridge upon the river for a long time and with the inauguration of the bridge, the people are now free from the prolong burden.
Shrimayum Memcha, who has been running a supply business of commodities from Kakching to Serou for the last 10 years, said “All my worries are gone with the inauguration of the bridge and I feel very secure now”.
She claimed that in the absence of a bridge the only means of transportation to cross the Chakpi river was to use boat when the river is inflated and by foot when the water level is low.
However, there is a great risk of being washed away as the river is unpredictable. “The river changes its course from time to time and it could suddenly turn violent if there is downfall for even some minutes at the upper stream of Serou”.
“There is no happier moment than the completion of the bridge for the people here” said Laimayum Babita a resident of Serou Awang Leikai.
There have been many fatal incidents while attempting to cross the river, she said before adding that as far as she could recall and which still lives in her memory afresh is the death of four persons. The first incident was the death of three people from Lamjao whose boat capsized in a violent current about five years ago. The victims were coming to Serou to purchase cows, she said.
According to her the latest incident was the death of a youth from Sugnu who along with nine others tried to swim across the river to attend the “Bor” pooja held at Khanachaoba Wangbarel temple, a local deity, located at Serou.
The “Khanachaoba Wangbrel” situated at Serou is also a centre of attraction for many devotees since time immemorial. Every year several hundreds devotees throng the temple during Lai Haraoba.
Today’s programme was also attended by Manipur legislative Assembly speaker, I Hemochandra; health minister L Jayentakumar; RD & PR minister-Md. Allaudin Khan, Lok Sabha MP Thangso Baite, deputy chairman state planning board Bijoy Koijam, MLA E Dwijamani, Chandel MLA Thangkholun Haokip, DGP Manipur Y. Joykumar, chief secretary DS Poonia and other officials of the works department.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister in a separate function also inaugurated the Khengjoy SDO/BDO office at Chandel district.