Banning parking at Paona Keithel Think out of the box
The Government will need to think out of the box. Just a cursory order banning parking of vehicles at Paona Keithel to address the growing traffic congestion in the commercial centres of Imhal cannot be the answer. In the first place, the Government will have to acknowledge that from a needle, to a pair of shoes, to the high tech gizmos and other things such as refrigerators to other home appliances, the destination for everyone is Thangal Keithel, Paona Keithel, BT Road, MG Avenue and the adjoining areas, so much so that today Thangal Keithel can be said to stretch till Khoyathong on the northern side, Waheng Leikai road on the western side etc. This is besides the historic Ima Keithel, which sells everything from vegetables to fish. Besides this there are banks, schools and other offices. Natural that the said areas become the destination of everyone, from those wanting to buy a needle to the most sophisticated household appliances. Add the easy availability of bank loans to buy cars and other vehicles and suddenly Imphal is today no longer the place it once was say ten or even five years back. Ban the opening of new business establishments at the said places and instead encourage the trading community to look beyond these places. For instance the market at Lamphel can be developed so that people from the northern side of Imphal can head to this place instead of lining up to go to either Thangal Keithel or Paona Keithel. Develop the market place at Singjamei so that people from the southern side of Imphal can head for this place instead of crowding Paona and Thangal Keithels. The same may be said of Kwakeithel bazar, Lamlong bazar, etc. Develop these places so that not everyone need to go to the already crowded Thangal and Paona Keithels. Simultaneously the Government may look at the possibility of trying to shift schools which are located in the heart of these commercial centres. Relocate the banks and other offices elsewhere. Such a step will go some distance in addressing the increasing crowd at these places. Spread out. This is the most practical step that may be taken at this point of time and the sooner the Government act on this the better it would be for the place and the people.
This is not the first time that the Government has hit upon the idea of banning the parking of vehicles at Paona Keithel. One can still recollect the days during the time of the then Congress Government when it toyed with the idea of banning the parking of vehicles at these commercial centres. Back then too the move of the Government was met stiffly. With shops downing shutters at Paona Keithel to protest the notification issued by the Imphal Municipal Corporation, one wonders how things will pan out in the next couple of days, but this cannot be good for trade and commerce by any stretch of the imagination. Yet at the same time it has also to be admitted that some tough decisions are needed to address the problem of growing traffic congestion at these said places. Look to develop commercial centres outside these commercial centres. Consult town planners and rope in their service. Consult experts on how to ease the growing traffic problem not only at these commercial centres but across Imphal. The decision not to let the school hours co-incide with office hours is a beginning but the Government will need to look beyond this measure. The Government will also need to study where the vehicles which have been barred from being parked at Paona Keithel may be kept. The arrangement atop the Naga Nullah may just prove inadequate as it is already crowded even now with parked vehicles.