IMPHAL, November 27: Chief Minister O Ibobi today visited the only sanctuary for Manipuri polo ponies at Ibudhou Marjing Khubam in Heingang and assessed the existing infrastructure and working conditions there.
The chief minister was accompanied by the Speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly Th Lokeshwore, veterinary and animal husbandry minister Govindas Kongthoujam, local MLA N Biren and members of polo teams from Thailand, USA, Germany, and India of the ongoing Manipur Polo International. The visitors led by Ibobi also prayed at the idol of Ibudhou Marjing.
Later, talking to media persons after the inspection, Ibobi said the pony sanctuary has been established with a commitment for preserving the unique Manipuri pony and increasing its population which has dwindled to just around 700. He further disclosed that the government also plans to develop the site as a tourist attraction.
An area of 500 acres of land on both sides of Heingang hill, encompassing fields belonging Heingang and Pangei regions, will be acquired, he said. However, he allayed fears that patta holders affected by the sanctuary will suffer due to the acquisition process. Ibobi further informed that Khongjom Kheba Ching and Keina along with Ibudhou Marjing Pony Sanctuary will be developed under an integrated mega project with financial assistance from the Union Ministry of Tourism.
As part of the mega project, the infrastructure and road connectivity for the tourist sites will be developed. Announcing that plans to build a race course and natural park there, Ibobi said emphasis will be paid on making the site eco-friendly. The next generations and polo players from outside should have the knowledge that the origin of polo was from Manipur, he stated.
The Chief Minister also appealed to all the owners to rein in their horses from wandering in the streets or to bring them to the sanctuary. He said straying of horse in the Imphal municipal area is not allowed and the Imphal Municipal Council has been directed to manage and take steps in this regard.
After the completion of the inspection there, the team led by the CM went to Khundrakpam to oversee the progress on acquisition of 20 acres of land. The Pony Sanctuary Manipur Horse Riding Polo Association, All Manipur Polo Association and Manipuri Pony Society were the hosts of the CM visit.