Need to expand commercial centres : Look beyond Khwairamband
Now this is the time for the Government to plan on how to expand the commercial/keithel centres. With Khwairamband Keithel or the three Ima Keithels kept shut before the Nationwide lockdown even came into force, one would like to believe that the Government has seen the core of the issue here. It is not only the case of the three Ima Keithels but the fact that they are located plum in the middle of the two most important commercial areas in Manipur that makes it all that more so. There is Thangal Keithel on the northern side and Paona Keithel on the southern side and connecting these two commercial centres is a single road that runs through, which also connects the three Ima Keithels. Other than Thangal Keithel, Paona Keithel and the three Ima Keithels, there is BT Road, MG Avenue, Masjid Road, Alu Gali and other adjacent commercial centres attracting thousands of shoppers everyday. This obviously is the primary reason for everyone to head to one of these places for anything they need and all these places are situated next to each other with one or two roads connecting them. The need to shift some of the trading places to other parts of Imphal has been voiced in this column from time to time and top this off with the fact that till some time back, fish mela used to be held on the eve of every Ningol Chakkouba at Mapal Kangjeibung, which again is located at BT Road. So from a needle to a TV set or a refrigerator, to fish, vegetables to almost anything that is needed, one has to head to these places, adding to the chaos and confusion at these extremely congested places. That some important offices such as banks and even two or three schools are located here makes the place all that more crowded defeating the very essence of maintaining social distancing.
Commercial centre. This is understandable for every city will have such a centre or two, but to concentrate everything at one place or places which are adjacent to each other simply does not make sense, when a little bit of planning is all this is needed to expand the market places. Time now calls for some planning to expand Imphal and one of the more effective ways would be relocate some of the trades located at Thangal Keithel, Paona Keithel, BT Road, MG Avenue, Masjid Road etc. See how market places, understood as those dealing in fresh vegetables and fish may be located at say Canchipur in the south, beyond Lamlong Keithel to the east, beyond Koirengei to the north and beyond Kwakeithel to the west. These are just some examples, but the truth is, the Government seriously need to think of ways on how to ease the growing crowd at the commercial centres of Imphal. Perhaps this is best exemplified by the huge crowd at Thangal Keithel and Paona Keithel during the easing down of the lockdown on May 3 and May 4. Now if only the commercial centres had been spread far and wide, such crowding could have been avoided, and make sense of the call to maintain physical/social distancing. Now with the Government not allowing shops at Thangal Keithel and Paona Keithel to open, the need to expand the commercial centres is again being felt all that more and there cannot be a better time than this to think along this line. Spread out and in the meantime develop a long term vision to study where the present ISBT may be relocated. Imphal must be the only place in the entire country where the ISBT is located plum in the heart of the capital city.