Pathetic Imphal-Jiribam highway Time to set priorities
Now is the time to prioritise things. In its second term in office with Chief Minister N Biren back at the helm, it is more than appropriate that things are put in perspective and move from the tall claims during its first stint in office and see things from the ground reality. With the Southern Angami People’s Organisation (SAPO) and Southern Angami Youths Organisation (SAYO) banning the movement of all Manipur vehicles in Nagaland, not only goods trucks but even passenger buses have had to take the Imphal-Jiribam line. And to even think that this route qualifies as a National Highway is like a poor joke played on the people. A trip from Guwahati to Imphal along this said route takes 30 hours ! Plus, the road, if one calls it that, is not much more than a dirt track. Ask any passenger who has taken this route and one will get the point that is sought to be made here. The Manipur based Transporters and Drivers Council has been avoiding the Imphal-Dimapur line for years now, for reasons which must be clear to all, and this is primarily the reason why vehicles continue to take this route. Now with the bandh on Manipur vehicles by SAPO and SAYO on in full swing, this is perhaps the best time for the BJP Government to focus its attention on National Highway 37 and make it fit for a place which is land locked and hence have only two routes that connect it to the outside world. The sad reality is, Manipur has no rail head as yet and is connected to the outside world via only two highways, out of which only one can be said to fit the bill of a road. The BJP Government should get its act together and instead of verbal assurances, get down to the business of making the Imphal-Jiribam route fit to be called a highway. And with the ban on Manipur in Nagaland on, passenger vehicles of all sorts including goods trucks and oil tankers have to take the Imphal-Jiribam route and one can only imagine the immense pressure that must have come already. The Government should get its act together and now is the time to focus on the second lifeline.
Second lifeline-This is the term which has become synonymous with the Imphal-Jiribam highway and while it is encouraging to note that the three major bridges have come under the notice of the Centre with one having already been upgraded to a pucca bridge and another reportedly finished but yet to open to the public, the Government should seriously study whether its present condition fits the bill of a lifeline. On the other hand, the Government should take up the matter with its Nagaland counterpart as soon as possible, for what is happening right now is taking a people to ransom and this cannot be accepted by any stretch of the imagination. The Naga People’s Front is very much a part of the Government here and at Nagaland too and this is where the importance of politics comes into play. Use the office of the State unit of the NPF to reach out to the Government at Kohima and see how things can be worked out and not only the present ban on Manipur vehicles in Nagaland but on the Dzuko Valley issue as well. This may perhaps be the first test of the BJP Government in its second innings here.