“It was last in the late 1970s that the service road in Ukhrul district of Manipur saw any kind of construction work. Since then, the quality of the road has been deteriorating up to a point that now it feels like there never was a road here,” says an anguished Pamkhuila Shaiza.
It is after 15 years that the resident of Ukhrul has returned to her hometown, only to find not just a lack of, but complete regression in infrastructure.
Pamkhuila studied in different schools and colleges before completing her Masters in history from Delhi University. She is now preparing to pursue her PhD in Anthropology in London, and came back for a whiff of her hometown before moving aboard. She was welcomed by the road leading to her home in complete disrepair. Now, she has taken up the mission to rebuild the road before she leaves for London in two months’ time.
“I was shocked at the state of the road. I am unable to walk even for half an hour without catching cold or fever from the dust during summer; or without waddling through water-logged puddles and drainage waste during the rains. I guess this goes for many or all members of the Tangkhul community that reside here in Ukhrul headquarters,” she says.
Among many other issues in the neighbourhood like the absence of running tap water, intermittent supply of electricity, and abject poverty, Pamkhuila is trying to solve the one problem she can before leaving. The idea came to her from a recent example from Tamenlong district, where the community constructed the road that connected the states of Assam and Manipur with inspiration from an IAS officer.
Pamkhuila was impressed by the story, and the thought of taking action instead of waiting for the Government appealed to her. Therefore, she decided to crowdfund the money needed for the construction of the road.
The surface road was built between 1977 and 1979 when Yangmaso Shaiza was Chief Minister. Since then, the condition of the road has been deteriorating, owing to the extreme climatic conditions of the region, especially heavy rainfall.
“General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) of the Border Road Organization (BRO) had taken the responsibility of constructing the road in Ukhrul district. But no efforts have been made to construct the road, and the district is now engulfed in dust from the road in the summer. Some efforts were made by individual activists and organisations to improve the road, but the work never made any headway,” Pamkhuila informs.
The population of the Ukhrul district is around 2 lakh, with the majority of people residing in Ukhrul headquarters. Construction of the surface road will ensure better connectivity, improved transport as well as faster and smoother commute.
“The project is to construct the 6.4 km road for which the estimated cost is Rs 2 crore. I intend to approach Manipur Road Construction or Assam Road Construction companies for renting the required equipment and the local Tangkhuls to volunteer for the construction purpose. I feel that it’s my personal responsibility to better my homeland and I am simply trying to do that here,” she says.
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Source: The Sangai Express