Go develop the Hills; From slogan to action : A live case study

Benjamin Maikho 
Under “ Go to Village’ the Chief Minister has initiating a few measures to reach out to the hills neglected since the foundation of statehood on 21st Jan 1972. But it is more of cosmetics like personal grievances platform, gracing some festive occasions as chief guests handing over few wads of cash to function organizers, collect memorandum of demand mostly village community centres and distribution of central welfare subsidies even as the State has no source of revenue due to no industrialization. These are nimble tokenism  not going to develop the hills unless core basic infrastructure like roads, health care, irrigation, electricity, farm incentive, urbanization & review of land revenue policy for monetization being sensitive topic, banking, and access to market agriculture produce and above all change of work culture, operation of BDO offices being the federal structure of governing system in the country. Else accusation that the resources received from Centre are mostly cornered by valley and hills continue to be deprived with no means of economic empowerment. Manipur is the only state, with no State Public transport in the country whereas state like Maharashtra, (most developed) all villages are connected by public transport to talukas/district HQ. The most affected are the ordinary villagers who continue to live tribal life while few influential people who are able to corner govt jobs/contracts are the privileged ones and others went out of the state for private jobs/business. There is gap between the two that the ordinary villages are just staring at the sky to catch up the life style of the govt employees and contractors in the age of consumerism. So here a live case of a great opportunity of transforming around 30 villages, covering 2 blocks offices in the form of executing a PMSGY project connecting Maram-Koide – Purul with cascading effect in entire senapati district.
Let me begin with old wise fable – A farmer one day discovered a fortune that his goose laid a golden egg. This continued for some time and life has since changed for him and his family. One day he hit upon an idea to get all his fortune altogether instead of getting one each day, killed the goose, cut open to get all the golden eggs it may lay in future. To his disappointment there wasn’t any more golden egg. This analogy is repeated in the hills in the form of non-operation of Govt Offices and poor contract execution due to high profiteering by contactors in collusion with Govt officials & elected representative besides poor participation of citizens by remaining mute spectators/ not aware how to complaint against this menace.
A live case : On 20th July ‘19 Mr Romesh Meitei, has been awarded contract for building PMSGY road of 22 kms stretch between Maram –Koide- Purul by Manipur Rural Road Development Agency vide work order No 6924/PMSGYPh XI(B-II, 2017-18) RT(Pt). The bid is for Rs 11.46 Crores to be executed within 18 months, work to commence on 2 Aug’19 but the deadline missed. Purul is already a non operational  block since more than a decade. The same stretch was also awarded PMSGY during 2006 -08 but built shabbily and seems not even completed, far from being vehicle worthy and people are back to same as they were in 1990’s. The reason I believe is, we have time and killed the golden goose whenever it lays the golden egg like the farmer who believed in getting rich too fast. Sans PMSGY, expecting a road from manipur govt seems a dream that may not realize in next one decade. The stake holders of the road are; the govt, its servants (the officers), contractors who execute and biggest being, the common public who utilize the road. Being the biggest social infrastructure project awarded so far and the stakeholder esp Purul & Koide youths have formed a Work Execution Monitoring Committee to monitor, doesn’t want to leave it to MSSRDA to deliver having seen the bad experience of accountability in the previous PMSGY 2006-08. Besides an association of concern citizens are on a watch to see the progress and if need be ready to take up with Ministry of RD New Delhi for intervention. Till date only some excavation works are seen in patches and basic works quality seems not as per IRC SP 20 / Hill Road Manual (IRC SP 48) no proper board as per PMSGY III mandate para 11.6 has been displayed thereby giving apprehension of accountability to the villagers. Chief Minister needs to seize this opportunity to ensure this road is built as planed/funded as its benefits will have positive effect in the whole of senapati because the road connects NH- 2, at maram, three other PMSGY roads, phaibung block encompassing 20 villages, senapati HQ - imphal and will impact will be as follows
(To be contd)