Inclement weather fails to dampen Shirui Festival spirit

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Development Sans Communal Differences Will Prevail Now, Says CM Biren

IMPHAL: Chief Minister N Biren Tuesday inaugurated the five-day Shirui Lily Festival, 2017 amidst dazzling display of cultural items, modern art and music on Tuesday. The colourful opening function was held at Vangayan ground, Shirui village in Urkhul district wherein hundreds of people from across the state took part with great enthusiasm despite incessant rain.

Speaking as chief guest of the function, CM Biren pointed out that the occasion marks an important milestone in the efforts of unifying different ethnic communities of Manipur. For long, Meeteis have been putting relentless efforts to bridge the ethnic gap with the Nagas and Kukis in the hills and the Shirui festival is an important step towards building close and cordial relations. With such efforts, development without communal differences would prevail in the state from now on, Biren said.

Biren said that the Tangkhuls, once known as head hunters, have now become soul hunters on the lookout for cordial relationship with different communities. The state is now  approaching towards a new era that does not have any differentiation on the lines of caste, religion, rich and poor.

Shirui in Ukhrul district has two of the most valuable assets of the state – the state flower Shirui Lily and state bird Nong-in. The seemingly neglected outlook of the past governments towards the two valuable assets and the area, which shelter them is unfortunate. However,
things will change from now on under the new government, the Chief Minister said, adding that he is happy to learn that Shirui villagers are ready to donate the village land for increasing forest covers to protect the endangered Lily species.

Painting a rosy picture of the age old relationship between the hills and valley, Biren said that he strongly believed that a rapprochement has finally been brought about between the two groups of people. “It is imperative to restore the strained relationship between the hill and the valley and I truly believe that today this bond is finally revived through the grace of God”, he said. Lauding the Tangkhul community for hosting the festival and extending hospitality to visitors hailing from different communities of the state, he remarked that Tangkhuls who once were head hunters have today turned to soul hunters. Stressing that all communities residing in the state must shed their differences in the interest of communal harmony and progress, Biren challenged all the communities to contribute towards making a new Manipur. Matching up to the expectations of the denizens of the district, chief minister announced different development packages for developing myriad infrastructure in the district. He assured that his government has earmarked Rs 5 crore towards supplementing in developing infrastructure at Shirui hill and added that a proposal would be put up to NEC to sanction Rs 15 crore at the earliest since the means from the state government alone would not be sufficient for building the requisite infrastructure. He also expressed concern over continued neglect of the famed Nogin bird which is found only in Shirui hills, apart from Shirui Lily and added that his government would soon take measures to ensure preservation of the bird as Shirui village has already shown willingness to donate lands for the same.

In the same vein, Biren also announced that the famous Khangkhui Cave will be developed through Rs 45 crore sanctioned under NLCPR. Continuing that all these development packages are already included in the current budget, he assured that a blueprint for the same will be prepared very soon. Stating that Manipur Public Service Commission has been revived after years of lying defunct and chairman and members of the commission appointed, he conveyed that all this has been done for the sake of maintaining transparency and accountability within the commission. Reaffirming the commitment of his government to address the public issues, he underscored that there should be no agenda whatsoever for holding meeting with public which is meant to redress their grievances, and urged bureaucrats and his ministers to understand it.

Noting the inconveniences faced by the visitors as the festival is being organised at the state level for the first time, Biren stressed the need for development of infrastructure including accommodation of tourists. Observing that action is required rather than making rhetoric statements, Biren reiterated that bringing uniform development in the state is the objective of the new government. He also observed that tranquillity would be restored only when there is good rapport between the government and people. During the function, he also released a book titled, ‘Brief Introduction to Shirui Kashong: Abode of Shirui Lily’ authored by Philasan Shangh Shimray. Later in the afternoon, Biren flagged off the Shirui Lily Grand Prix competition, organised as part of the festival. As the functional president, Forest and Environment minister Th Shyamkumar expressed concern that Ukhrul does not look green like in the past. As such, the state government would put in efforts to replenish the forest cover in the district.

The Centre has now lifted the restrictions on foreign funding and subsequently, an amount of Rs 147.37 crore has been approved under Indo-Germany Financial Assistance for development of forest and environment. Development of Dzuko valley is the next target, Shyamkumar added. PHE minister Losii Dikho, parliamentary secretaries Dr Sapam Ranjan, N Indrajit, L Rameshwor Meetei, L Sushindro, Khasim Vashum, Awangbow Newmai and K Leishiyo and MLAs Y Surchandra, S Bira, O Lukhoi and Ngamthang Haokip were also present at the function as guests of honour. Moreover, Minister Counsellor (commercial) of Royal Thai Embassy, New Delhi, Tharadol Thongruang and NEC Secretary Ram Muivah, top civil and police officials and chief minister N Biren’s wife N Hiyainu also attended the function. On behalf of the organisers, Tangkhul portraits were presented to the dignitaries by Secretary (Tourism) N Ashok Kumar before the function began with Shirui Lily song titled, ‘Goddess of all Goddesses’, composed by (late) CM Piyo.

Later, invocation prayer for Princess Shirui Lily was performed by Khanyalian Zimik. Being the first state level edition, visitors faced various inconveniences in coming to the festival venue. The entire stretch of the 15 km-long single lane road from Imphal to Ukhrul witnessed increased traffic volume. The way upto Shirui peak was slushy following unprecedented rainfall. The festival venue Vangayan ground did not have roofed hall to house the visitors making it difficult for visitors to enjoy the colourful inaugural function fully. It may be mentioned that different programmes like cultural items of different communities of the State, modern music, rock and fashion shows would be organised at three different venues viz Tangkhul Naga Long ground (Ukhrul), Bakshi ground (Ukhrul) and Vangayan ground (Shirui village).

Source: The People’s Chronicle

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