IMPHAL: MORE A SHANTY TOWN — IMPACT OF PULL PRESSURE

This editorial was first published by the Sangai Express on 5 June 2012

Imphal may just about escape the tag of a slum but it is undeniable that it has all the trappings of one. Well almost, if not all. The booming private water tanker service is nothing but a reflection of the extremely poor water supply scenario in the capital of the State while the brisk sale of LED lamps and low cost generators brought in from across the border at Moreh says something significant about the power supply, which is more often marked by black outs and load shedding than actually lighting up homes and streets. One does not have to go to the village to get a glimpse of an inter-village road for a walk or a drive through any of the lanes and by lanes of Imphal would be more than enough experience. The slush on the road, which turns into dust, depending on whether it rains or not, the rotting garbage piled up on the sides of the roads, the all round confusion on the roads of Imphal, made worse by the digging up and filling up and again digging up process, courtesy the Imphal Sewerage Project or whatever development projects are being taken up, the plastic clogged Naga nullah, the overwhelming stench that accompanies the otherwise cool breeze from Lamphel side all taken together have come to fit the description of Imphal like a T. Not exactly a slum but very close to the description of one. A shanty town, perhaps. Making things more worrying is the report that the population of Imphal has grown by leaps and bounds, outstripping the growth in other capital towns or cities of the country, in the last ten years or so. A 68 pc growth in population in the last decade is not a joke. Five years down the line and the situation can only be imagined. It is clear that the rapid population growth in Imphal has outpaced the ability of Imphal to extend the basic urban amenities to its people and with a Government which does not have urban planning on its agenda, things can only get worse.
 In the last 10 or 15 years, successive Governments have demonstrated that they lack the vision to look beyond Imphal. The inability to look beyond the periphery of Imphal can be summed up in the cluttering of numerous projects located within a 5 km radius from the heart of the capital. This has only made the pull factor of the capital town all that more powerful. With all commercial centres, all important offices and other public utility establishments located within the said 5 km radius, it is but natural for the people to make a beeline for the capital. Take the law and order situation into consideration and it is obvious that more and more rural people would shift to Imphal if they had the means and this is exactly what has been witnessed in the last two decades or so. A public low on civic sense and fattened by an overdose of selfish motives and drives has only gone to add to the woes of the capital town. Something has to give. Imphal cannot continue with its present state of existence. It is time for the Government and the Imphal Municipal Council to seriously get down to the job of urban planning. Hefty penalty should be imposed on people who come under the impression that the roads and drains are dumping grounds for their wastes. Ban plastics and enforce it strictly. To make this effective, the Government may rope in the service of local clubs and other voluntary organisations to crack down on the use and disposal of plastic carry bags. Make everyone accountable. Enforce the Imphal building by law or if one is not in place, legislate one fast. And make sure that basic amenities are made available in the rural areas. Relocate some of the market areas to the periphery of Imphal. These are some of the immediate steps that need to be taken up and it should not be much of a problem, if the political will is there to begin with. Time to make Imphal liveable.

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