CRUMBLED BEACON

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The tremor that shook the region from the deep slumber in the wee hours today morning literally threw up many terrifying facts and laid bare matters for everyone to witness. The earthquake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale and having its epicenter 33 kilometers from the state capital lasted a few seconds and caused what can be described as minimal damage, both in terms of lives and properties. While most of the properties and structures which sustained damages are those which were very old and already on the verge of crumbling, the unfortunate and disturbing picture of the bent and broken pillars of Ima Keithel building tells a story of fearful uncertainty and foreboding. The structure which was inaugurated in 2010 with much fanfare and spectacle has today, after just four years, laid to waste in a crumple of dust and dirt. It has always been a beacon women empowerment and of the untiring and indomitable spirit of the Manipuri women, a symbol of the unique and enviable position the women of the state has been accorded since time immemorial. The market has also been acknowledged as the world’s only all-women marketplace and has reserved a pride of place in the annals of the history of the state. That the structure has been damaged beyond repair is apparent, and while government officials must surely be planning declarations to preempt the negative feedbacks and pressures, and the public will now surely start demanding actions against those responsible, or rather irresponsible, entrusted with the construction of the building. Some of the private buildings which were left half completed also crumbled during the disaster and at least 8 persons were reported dead while many sustained injuries and needed hospitalization. Interestingly, after the tremor electric power supply was cut off from the entire region as a safety measures, or perhaps because some HT electric tower of the power grid was destroyed at some of the areas. Surprisingly private mobile service towers erected at some of the private houses building were not affected. Another point of interest is that even at Jiribam which is not far from the epicenter, destructions and damage were reported, but in this instance also almost all government buildings which were newly constructed were cracked and damaged. That the unfortunate catastrophe happened during the early hours before the daily bustle began could have been the reason for the negligible number of loss of precious human lives. One would shudder to imagine the consequences had the disaster struck during the busy business hours. Over and above the uncertainty and anxiety being felt by the people of the state, we would have had to deal with more disturbances and social upheavals- another undesirable event the state can really do without. The bottomline- having the inefficiencies and unscrupulous working habits of the state authorities and their cronies been laid bare for all to witness, what steps will the state government take to make sure such loss of face and self-inflicted disgrace is repeated with unnecessary collateral damages of life and properties? Will it finally learn from its mistakes of peddling contracts without giving a thought of the real benefit to the people?     

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