By R Lester Makang
UKHRUL, August 28: Over five decades down the line after establishing it as one of the sub-divisional blocks of Ukhrul district, ‘development’ still remains an elusive chimera for the people of Phungyar area as the State government continues to neglect their problems in myriad spheres of life.
Located about some 45 kms towards south from Ukhrul district headquarters, the development block — Phungyar headquarters — is being bounded by Ukhrul centre on the north, Imphal East district on the west and the two sub-divisions of the district, namely Kamjong and Kasom Khullen on the east and south respectively. It was upgraded to sub-divisional block in 1959 for the uplift of the inhabitants from around 39 neighbouring villages in the area.
The overall administrative functioning of Phungyar block had, however, virtually come to a grinding halt, apart from depriving the public of various facilities including health care, education, Public Distribution System (PDS), drinking water, road connectivity et al since the past many years as the government of Manipur has miserably failed to measure up to the status of sub division for the so-called Phungyar headquarters. This was the common sentiment poured out by the local public to a team of media persons who visited the area on Monday last.
Not surprisingly, the Phungyar Primary Health Centre (PHC) was found without a single doctor even though there are sanctioned posts of two medical doctors and one Ayush doctor.
Local public leaders said that three doctors were utilized a few years back but they never stationed at the centre and were later transferred somewhere some months back. In the doctors’ absence, it was found, a retired male staff nurse Yarngai, who voluntarily continued offering service is practically running the PHC.
“I was already retired in 2008, but seeing the hardships of the people due to absence of doctors here, I am assisting with only what I can to provide medicines for minor ailments like common cold, flu, diarrhea etc,” Yarngai said.
Another female staff said that even the two nurses from NHRM being utilized here have never stayed overnight, and expressed desire for engagement of nurses from the locals. She also said that since its inauguration in December last year the government has not provided a single equipment of any sort.
Meanwhile, perturbed with the way free medicines are often out of stock for the public, the local development committee has recently filed an RTI pertaining to issuance of medicines and the total amount of money sanctioned to the centre during the past three years. “We are awaiting response from the government,” a local leader said.
N. Thotchuishang, president, Oriental Club Phungyar said that the PHC has been rendered meaningless as the public cannot avail the benefits owing to perpetual absence of doctors.
“There have been several cases of patients dying while being transported out of the town in cases like delivery etc since there is no doctor to attend to them.”
He also blamed the absence of full-time SDO for the overall failure in the administration of the sub division, while deploring that functioning of different areas has gone haywire as most staffs of different departments often fail to attend their office.
Stating that water problem in the area is affecting the peoples economy, he said that every year during dry season each house hold here buy water at Rs.500/600 for a quantity of 500 litres.
A local elder K Shimreingam disclosed that the PWD department had handed over the SDO office to the concerned department after constructing a few years back but till date it has remained unoccupied and has turned into a shelter for construction workers.
Meanwhile, the public particularly, students from the block are facing hard times since they cannot easily obtain various official documents related to their studies as the concerned department office remain closed most of the time.
It was also learnt that Phungyar SDO in-charge Dipu Gangmei has not been able to station there since he has been holding dual charge as both ADC Ukhrul and SDO in-charge of the sub-division.
“We therefore request the government to immediately appoint a full-fledged SDO in the interest of the public and development of the area, he said.
He also rued that the road connecting the sub-division particularly the 15 kms stretch from Shangshak is in a bad shape since the BRTF/GREF authority handed it over to the State Public Works Department (PWD) some years back. The PDW has ever since not maintained the road rendering it deplorable as most portions of the stretch have developed pot holes and are engulfed by roadside bushes.
The public further informed that PDS items are sold to card holders at exorbitant price and that PDS rice is being sold at the same rate for all categories of beneficiaries irrespective of AAY, BPL and APL. PDS agent J Semmi has informed that rice is being sold at Rs. 15/kg, kerosene oil at Rs. 30/ltr adding sugar has not been received.
Pointing out that the MLA representative of the block is deducting one quintal of rice each month from each of the 61 PDS agents from the area for reasons unknown and that the government does not provide them conveyance cost, Semmi conceded that they are compelled to recoup their loss and expenses by increasing the rate of items for public distribution.
Even then, the public has expressed their gratitude to the local MLA Victor Keishing for taking up developmental works like construction of retaining walls, water tanks etc. in the area.
Meanwhile, Phungyar Higher Secondary School, principal in-charge Kopa Hungyo has said that the government has till date not provided full-fledged headmaster for the school on ground of non-creation of post.
Upgraded to higher secondary level from primary school in 2009-10, the school is supposed to have 24 lecturers as sanctioned by the government but is being managed by just 14 teachers including two primary teachers from SSA.
As a result, the school is lacking teaching staff in many important subjects like Physics, Tangkhul, Manipuri, English, Home Science etc. Hungyo lamented while adding that a government-appointed Chemistry lecturer has for the most part stayed out of station which is affecting the students’ studies.
He then urged the government to give preference to locals at the time of appointing teaching staff in order to prevent dereliction of duty by teachers in the school.
Sources also disclosed that the school has not received Mid-Day Meal items since 27 May, 2014. The school presently has 186 students out of which Class Xl and Xll have 6 and 8 students respectively.