To the optimists the reason could be the bone biting chill that has gripped the State ever since winter set in while to the pessimists it could well be a case of things proceeding towards its logical conclusion. This is what one may read into the news item carried in the January 22 edition of The Sangai Express under the caption, ‘Charm of Imphal Evening slowly fizzles out.’ It was on October 2 last year that Chief Minister N Biren launched Imphal Evening to give a taste of night life to the people of Imphal and yes earning opportunities to the enterprising few who were ready to come out and display their wares to attract the attention of the visitors. If at all there were some misgivings it was the choice of the venue, as Kanglapat road is a National Highway and it is always choc-a-bloc with traffic. The worrying point was how Imphal Evening would impact on the already crowded Kanglapat road. Fortunately this apprehension turned out to be just that, apprehension for in all the Imphal Evenings that have been held since then, there is no report of traffic snarls or traffic bottle neck. This could be due to the fact that Imphal Evening is held every Saturday and Sunday, days when the people of Imphal usually do not throng the commercial areas for shopping. Moreover Sunday being a holiday there is no question of peak office hour, which usually lead to immense traffic congestion. The reality however says that as things stand today, the number of visitors to Imphal Evening has drastically gone down, while the number of stalls too has reduced drastically. Both are inter-linked, the reduced number of stalls indicating that there are too few buyers.
Other than giving a taste of night life to the people of Imphal, the Chief Minister too may have sought to convey the message that the law and order situation has improved substantially and people need not hurry home once the sun sets. Providing a platform to the people to come out and spend the evening with their families and at the same time delivering an important political point that the law and order situation has improved. This is fine but why is Imphal Evening unable to attract the people is the question that naturally follows. One thing that is clear now is that the stalls opened during Imphal Evening do not have anything special to attract visitors. Another point could be the high prices of the goods put up for sale at Imphal Evening, especially the food joints. It is here that the Government may seriously look into the fees charged for opening stalls at Imphal Evening. Why should the fees be so high and at the same time, why not explore the possibility of doing away with the fees ? Create an atmosphere that allows the food joints to sell at competitive prices. Will make absolutely no sense to have to pay Rs 50 or Rs 60 for a cup of coffee when the same can be had for Rs 20 at a nearby restaurant. Ditto too for the other eatables. Why not introduce some entertainment programme during Imphal Evening ? Why not set up a stage where talented singers can croon and soothe frayed nerves of the visitors ? Or better still why not invite the visitors to present a song of their choice ? Just some suggestions which may inject some life into Imphal Evening.