Imphal city is rapidly growing. Even before our very eyes, signs of this growth are starkly visible. To those who have been away from the state for longer than a year at a time, quite understandably, these changes appear to be happening in leaps and bounds. New restaurants, new hotels, new gymnasiums, new shopping centres, new automobile showrooms, catering to different strata of economic classes are opening up as if in a race with each other. Horizontally the city is expanding too. What once were outskirts have been absorbed into the city core. Satellite townships like Mantripukhri and Canchipur have today come to be contiguous with the main Imphal city. There has not been too much vertical growth, but it would be reasonable to predict this too would begin to happen sooner than later, particularly because there is now hardly any space left to expand horizontally without encroaching into farmlands, a prospect which the people fear and the government now has shown resolve not to allow. Paucity of space would also soon probably ensure apartment style accommodations are the new norm that replace Imphal`™s familiar homesteads. We saw this happen in Guwahati in just a matter of two or so decades. In the Northeast, in all likelihood, Imphal, currently struggling to manage its growing congestion would be next to transform similarly.
Call this new adversity or opportunity as you will, but the fact is, this is poised to be Imphal`™s new reality. This being the case, the only way to come to terms with it is to be prepared for the eventuality. Expectedly, there would be many challenges, including some very major ones. To name a few, these would be in areas of traffic management, drainage, waste disposal, clean water supply and many more. As of today, even in handling these few named challenges, Imphal has been miserably failing. The city has not even come up with a comprehensive solution to how it would manage its own waste. Since much of this waste constitute of non-degradable synthetic waste, the problem is even more compound. Sure no house can be considered beautiful if it does not have a clean toilet facility. Sadly and strangely, the irony of the situation still does not seem to have sunk in with the authorities. However we still hope they will soon. We also hope they will wake up to the reality of the other challenges as well. In this regard, it must be mentioned that the tough initiative of the current Congress government to widen Imphal roads, even though it caused dislocation of many, is laudable.
There is one other area where the authorities can begin work immediately. This one is hardly likely to cause the usual heartburns of acquisitions and demolitions. The authorities must in a systematic way, reorganise the mailing addresses of the city. Name the streets, leiraks and residential blocks, give a number to each house in each block, street and leirak. The old way was good enough once, when everyone practically knew each other. Today as the city grows, not only the population of permanent residents are growing, but also a floating population of company executives from other cities, workers, professionals etc. Many of them end up virtually without a reliable mailing address. Two decades ago, as one sat by the local road in the morning when people headed out for work, or in the evening when they returned home from work, one could recognize practically every single person who passes by, and close to 90 percent of them one was obliged to exchange greetings. Today, watching the same road at the same hours, chances are not even one is an acquaintance. Like it or not, this is the transformation Imphal is undergoing.
Leader Writer: Pradip Phanjoubam