A canal to augment Imphal City, a must !
Manipur is a blessed land. The local people call it Sanaleibak, the Golden Land! Jawaharlal Nehru, the late prime minister of India, described it as ‘Switzerland of the East’. Rice, the staple food item of the people, tastes as good, if not better than other varieties available in the country. Fresh vegetables, fish, meat, and numerous exotic herbs, which are in abundance, suitably compliment the staple diet. Delectable ethnic cuisine served at a gathering is usually not only feast for the eyes, but utterly satisfies the palate, especially the discerning’s. It is no wonder that a well-fed people, nourished by the best ingredients native to the tiny state, despite its relatively small population, produce athletes of excellence to represent the country. Given the prime natural attributes of the land, one can only be humbled, and in gratitude, strive to be good custodians of the state and its environment. It is with this frame of mind that I, although an amateur with no technical or engineering background, would like to propose a conceptual plan to improve the condition of the state, beginning with its strategically located capital, Imphal city.
To begin with, three factors that need to be addressed that plaques the state are: i) periodical flood, virtually every summer season, ii) mosquitoes, and iii) inconvenient landfill for many households.
Imphal valley is like a basin, a low-lying terrain surrounded by hills. Rain water in season flow down in torrents and swell the rivers, which tend to overflow and cause floods. Forest in the hills being denuded at an alarming rate and vanishing catchment areas, plus the swamps in the plains being landfilled to construct houses have rather irreversibly altered the once-prevailing natural drainage system that prevents flooding.
A structural sketch of the canal: Structural engineers and architects would no doubt prepare the actual blueprint of the construction. However, the idea conceived is an encircling concretized steel-reinforced canal, with wide enough embankment space to integrate a tree-lined footpath and cycling route along the foothills of Langgol that continues around central Imphal. The depth would need to be at a lower level than the bed of the Imphal River to collect overflow in the rainy season. To ensure water level remains fairly constant all year long, sewage treatment plant being in place (which probably already exists with the aid of the government of France), household waste-water treated at specified locations connected to the plant, could be channelled along with recycled water from various other appropriate sources, into the canal.
Clean and clear water flowing into an aesthetically constructed canal would add to existing beautification projects of ‘Greater Imphal’ and significantly promote tourism. The pleasant and attractive Floating Market in Thailand could be replicated to stimulate commercial activity serviced on clean energy, i.e. traditional ‘hie’ (wooden canoes), manually plied. The health and hygiene attributes of increased water resource from the canal to provide adequate municipal water supply cannot be ignored. Drinking water supply being sufficient, an option is created: pukhri (pond), an integral feature of many households, but also breeding place for mosquitoes, may be dispensed with for alternative utility space.
Notwithstanding the huge cost of construction, coupled with challenges related to administrative and compensation payment to the landowners along the canal route, the overwhelming benefit potential makes the canal idea worthwhile being transformed to reality. On the lighter side, in terms of relative construction ease, the terrain for the canal would not pose difficult rock-ridden paths as is common in the steep and rugged hills that also raise costs.
Consider a comprehensive approach: a) regeneration of catchment areas in the hills, and b) simultaneously commencing work on the ‘dream canal’. The combination being fully realized, the canal would elevate Imphal to the status it eminently deserves, not to mention the global environmental contribution or reduction of carbon footprint, small as may be. In terms of timeframe, regeneration of catchment areas would take about five years, and construction of the canal also achieved within the same duration.
A glimpse more on the Canal’s aesthetics combined with functionality: An aerial view blueprint of the proposed canal may be illustrative and visually more convincing. However, here, an attempt is embarked on to present a textual illustration. Imagine Imphal city at the heart, encircled by the canal. As mentioned above, on the embankments of the encircling tree-lined route, parallel walking and cycling paths separated by sturdy designed wrought iron railings, could be integrated. At regular designated intervals, sidewalk Cafés, Tea Stalls, Book Shops and other eateries, besides convenient stalls could be located, e.g. to sell handloom and handicraft items, memorabilia, artefact, etcetera that would attract tourists’ interest!
A smorgasbord of gastronomical delight, matched with aesthetics and functionality of the canal are key elements that would considerably augment Imphal city and enhance tourism, health benefits and spin-offs of employment, particularly for Emas selling goods on floating boats.
Re the proposed canal, all things considered, there is no time like starting on time, i.e. better sooner rather than later! Seasonal rains, and floods, are imminent.
Manipur is laden with potential! Positive political will is essential to achieve every worthwhile development.