The Manipur Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has suddenly come out from it slumber. We see them awake when they check vehicular emission now and then on the road. If not, we find them on their annual ceremonies with rituals of trees plantation taken out especially by the MPCB Chairmen. The electronic message board just in front of the western gate of Kangla installed by the MPCB is a reminder that they still do exist on the soil of Manipur. One can never be sure of the kind of message that the MPCB intends to give to the people that too, at one of the most congested traffic point in Imphal. One can sense the activity of the MPCB by logging on to their website, which has not been updated since the year 2012. Nevertheless we heartily welcome the new venture that the MPCB has decided to take up. The Chairman had announced that the contaminated water of Nambul River and Waisel Maril will be purified through a waste water treatment project. International experts based in California and Korea have been invited for seeking guidance. The expert from California has proposed that a water treatment process known as Effluence Treatment Plan could be used to purify the water. Success story of Sabarmati River in Gujarat has been cited by the expert. He has mentioned that similar problem of water contamination has already been solved for the river. As far as the Sabarmati River is concern, it is a project initiated by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and developed by the Sabarmati River Front Development Corporation Limited (SRFDCL) with funding from the central government of India. As of now, 10.4 km stretch of the river has been developed in the city of Ahmedabad. The Hindu in its April 2003 edition had reported that the SRFDCL bagged the Prime Minister’s award for excellence in urban planning and design for cleaning up the river and getting water to the nearly dry river in Ahmedabad, for the year 1998-99. Though there are still some hassles with the project in rehabilitating the slum population of the Ahmedabad city.
It is important to note that the government of Manipur prepared a City Development Plan (CDP) in 2006 under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) for urban infrastructural development. The project area of approximately 0.75 Sq. Km is marked as core area of the Imphal city, or otherwise termed as Central Business District (CBD). Project document of the CDP clearly mentions improvement of Nambul River as one of the major components of the project. According to the document, extensive research was done on Nambul and possible options for improvement of the river were submitted in February 2008. Some of the proposals were accepted. The project implementation is now briefly visible today along the stretch of Wahengbam Lekiai. It seems the project is not going to extend beyond the Keishampat Bridge. Interestingly, the project document has cited the SRFDCL’s success story as a benchmark for water treatment and its relevancy with the Nambul River. Indeed the CDP has set a high standard by drawing the example of Sabarmati River project, whereas its project implementations are best left to be seen. The project has built ‘designer retaining wall’ along the Wahengbam Leikai stretch but the Nambul water is still reeking with foul smell, flowing with all kinds of wastages. And all of a sudden the MPCB has come out with a high sounding project of cleaning the Nambul River. We doubt the MPCB has little idea about the City Development Plan and its project. Needless to mention that there is always disconnect between the departments of the state government. This was evident in the recent drought like situation in the state. Regarding the cleaning of Nambul, if suppose the MPCB is already aware of the CDP project and its related work on the river, and at the same time pushing for implementation of its own project, then there are no words to describe the kind of drama that is being played over the river; this is no time to play games of projects and funds. Nambul River needs serious attention from serious people.