DUST REPUBLIC- TALE OF 2 CONSTITUENCIES

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By: Sanjiit Laishram

I was wondering, when was the last time we had a blacktop road on this busy stretch of road along the Konung Mamang-Andro Parking area separating Wangkhei and Yaishkul in Imphal East district. Being a municipal area, we don’t have the luxury of the centrally sponsored schemes for road development projects like pradhan mantri gram sadak yojana (PMGSY) which are prevalent in rural and hill districts of our state. One can judge the condition of roads in greater Imphal areas to those in the rural areas and the different districts. State agencies like PWD and contractors who are supposed to engage in road development work in and around Imphal are in no hurry to finish this uncompleted stretch of road in this particular area any time soon. It’s clear that, the state government is waiting of Sangai Festival which is being organised during the month of November every year to complete this particular section of road. But, this also not a guarantee.
Being dry season and the ongoing drought like situation in our state, road in this particular stretch is becoming a motorist’s nightmare. With dust and suspended particles covering the entire stretch of this state highway, causing severe inconvenience to both communities settling along the highway and to all business establishment around this stretch. This includes women vendors of Konung Mamang Ema Keithel, the road side eateries along the Konung Mamang till Andro Parking and various other kirana shops along this stretch. The problem of dust is Manipur is nothing new and has been a major health hazard for many residents of Imphal area. Dust is among the many workplace hazards, which include other aerosols (such as fumes and mists), gases and vapors, physical and biological agents, as well as ergonomic factors and psycho social stresses. There is a rapid rise of respiratory related diseases among the residents of Imphal in the recent past and the ever increasing case of respiratory problems to all sections of the society irrespective of gender or ages. The average middle class citizens are the worse sufferers regarding this issue, as these section of people who cannot afford the luxury of air conditioned cars directly face the blunt of the storm (of dust) in these areas.
It’s a sorry tale of incompetency and lack of civil administration on the part of concern authority and the state administration, that blacktopping of half a kilometer of road in the heart of Imphal city couldn’t be completed for almost two years and running. One can very well imagine the ongoing project along the national highway 53, Imphal- Jiribam section of blacktopping all weather roads that is been promised by concern minister and the honorable chief minister of our state. I don’t know who is at fault in this issue – the contractor, the public works department (PWD), the local minister concern (Wangkhei/Yaishkul Kendra) or the general public at large for giving vote to incompetent contract(or) ministers who never address the issues of the general public. What could we do now? Do we have to follow the age old tradition of Bandh or Blockade of this stretch of road till complete work is executed or do we have to boycott the contractor or the concern minister in charge or should we take the help of RTI to know the project status or a public interest litigation (PIL) against the concern department handling the road development work.
Whatever may be the step, it is time as a citizen of this nation that we need to make our self-heard, against lack of civil amenities. We as citizens need to make our self-accountable for this mess as our elected representative has failed to deliver their full on promises as a people’s representative. It’s high time for a change, a change that shapes future course of actions. Let’s join, one and all.

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