Road to Sangai Festival

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Once again, the state government has rolled up its sleeves for the upcoming Sangai Festival. The festival is set to kick-off in a few days. The government has been deploying the best of its machineries to tidy up the approach roads leading to the venue, which is the Hapta Kangjeibung. The arterial connectivity between the twin districts of Imphal that was facilitated by Sanjengthong Bridge is currently blocked. Construction of a new bridge across the Imphal River has failed to meet the festival dateline. There would not be dearth of reasons as to why it failed to meet the dateline. Needless to fret – public infrastructures missing datelines are nothing new in Manipur. One could without being credulous, contend that the non-completion of the dateline has been a blessing in disguise for the other approach roads. As we have mentioned earlier, the alternate roads leading to the venue would have remained unattended, filled with dust, rubbles and potholes if not for the missed dateline. The two important bridges; Thumbuthong and Minuthong over the Imphal River are currently used as stand-in for the erstwhile connectivity that Sanjenthong provided. And they shall be used during the festival as well, which is why the two approach roads are being prepared at war footing. IFP had earlier carried news reports of the residents of Nahabam Brahmapur near Thumbuthong complaining over the non-completion of road connecting the new Thambuthong Bridge even after it was thrown open to public sans any kind of inaugural ceremony or function. The locals had also complained about the sudden rise of traffic volume along the narrow stretch from Nahabam to Palace Compound leading to frequent accidents. IFP had carried those reports on May and July issues. The works minister had then promised the locals of completing the black topping very soon. And it is only in the month of November, when the festival is barely a few days left that the government has plunged into developmental works with nervous energy – all for the festival. Now that the prime minister has assented to grace the festival, the authorities are getting belligerent in giving a face lift of the town. The recent police raid at North AOC, which lies along another approach road near Minuthong is one part of the effort. Areas of Zomi Villa and Kekru Villa were raided by the police. Altogether 157 persons were detained for further verification during the raid. It was reported that most of them are substance abusers, drug peddlers and commercial sex workers. These places are well-known for all kinds of unlawful activities. This is despite the fact that personnel of the Indian Reserved Battalion are regularly posted in these areas. Rather than maintain law, five of them were caught in an inappropriate manner during the police raid. Late night travellers, especially those of us who return home after the desk job at odd hours, knows that these places wake-up into a different world right under the eyes of the ever vigilant security personnel. After the raid there has been a visible change. We hope that this change should continue even after the festival is over. As part of the preparation drive, the routes along the Hatta and New Checkon are being given new black topping which is welcomed. The festival promos this year have projected that more ethnic touches will be given to the Festival. Besides this, the promos also convey that special feature to highlight the plight of the endangered state animal, Sangai will be included. We have all the patience in the world to wait – for the Festival to come, for the Bridge to come. We shall wait and see.

Leader Writer: Senate Kh

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