For the last few days IFP has been highlighting dangerous potholes on the roads of Manipur which have led to death or maiming of many persons. That is why, IFP chose to call these potholes as ‘death-traps’ and kickstart a campaign bringing into focus on the dangerous stretches of various roads. Many of these death traps are right in the heart of the city even near the residences of VVIPs. Yet they choose to look the other way to ire of citizens and the general population. So, the time has come for the general public to join the campaign to give a wake-up call to the representatives of the people. The time is ripe as the state assembly elections are around the corner. One can imagine the difficulties faced by patients going to the Shija Hospital at Langol, which has become more or less a referral hospital. On the other side of Lamphelpat, the condition of the road leading from DC Imphal West office complex to Langol Games Village is so pathetic. There are many important government offices including the Chief Electoral Officer’s office and Employment Exchange on the road. This is to cite only a few examples so as to paint the general condition of roads. The situation is same in the hill areas. One talks of the development divide between the valley and hills. That divide is the creation of our representatives, both hill and valley. The impact of the Rural Roads Development scheme is yet to be felt in both the hill and valley. Its presence is felt only when complaints are made against the procedural lapses in the award of works. Most of the MLAs are only interested in new road projects in their constituencies, while they continue to neglect the already existing roads. They are always in a mad scramble for inclusion of their road projects either under Special Plan Assistance (SPA) or the infamous Special Development Fund specially created by pooling in resources from different departments.
In recent times, development planning has been reduced to ‘earmarked planning’. Macro level or micro level planning has become a farce. Every MLA whether in ruling or opposition wants a piece of the cake and they always make it a point to remain in the good books of the One who holds all the purse strings. In the process, the already existing roads remain neglected. There is a maintenance fund for major or minor repairing of the roads. The responsibility of repairing state highways and various other categories of roads are divided between the state PWD and other agencies. How these funds are used by various agencies remains a mystery. There is no transparency. One occasionally sees stretches of road being repaired. But one rarely questions the agencies or contractors or for that matter the sub-contractors about the source of funding and the procedure involved. It is sad that we no longer question the activities of the government or the MLAs we have elected. The enactment of Right to Information Act remains a tool in the hands of a few, while it has not been able to produce the desired effect. We still remained trapped in time warp of Official Secrets Act and confidentiality. This has led to the tragic irresponsibility of our representatives.