The unplanned city of Imphal Concrete jungle
‘Unsystematic’, ‘Constructed/Developed without any planning’. This is Imphal and other towns in Manipur in a nutshell and these words came from retired IAS officer RK Nimai while taking part in the 19th foundation day of Manipur Architects’ Forum (MAF) where the discussion centred on the building bye laws of Imphal Municipal Corporation held at City Convention Centre on September 13. Make Imphal a liveable city was the call echoed by the retired IAS officer and the significance of this observation should not be lost on anyone. A concrete jungle, this is how many would be apt to put Imphal in a nutshell and top this off with the filth strewn all around and one is left wondering what has happened to the ban on single use plastic, in line with the call issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi not so long back. Apart from the haphazard manner in which the capital city of Manipur has been allowed to expand or develop or deteriorate, what stands out like a sore thumb is the manner in which filth has been allowed to pile up in different parts of Imphal. One may also ask when was the last time that the complex of the Inter-State Bus Terminus was repaired or given a brushing up ? It was during the first and second wave of COVID-19 that the ISBT housed the goods carrying trucks. It became the arrival zone and departure zone for all the goods trucks and obviously came under heavy strain. A look at the complex today would be more than enough to testify that nothing much in the line of repairing the approach road to the complex as well as the road inside the ISBT has been carried out. The result is there for all to see in the puddles of muddy water logged at the entrance of the ISBT making the road slushy. Come the dry season and one can be sure that the mud and slush will give way to dust. Mud and slush when it drizzles and dust when the sky clears up and this in short is the story of the ISBT. As noted many times earlier here, Imphal must be the only State capital where the ISBT is located right in the heart of the city and one wonders why no thought was given while zeroing in on the location for the place where all inter-State and inter-district buses and other vehicles are supposed to arrive and depart from.
It was on July 1, 2022 that Manipur joined the rest of the Nation in banning single use plastic of a certain thickness. A move in the right direction but two months down the line and one may well ask what has happened to the ban ? This question is raised in the backdrop of the call to make Imphal a liveable city. Just to quote an example. Cheiraoching at Thangmeiband now looks impressive and is the destination of quite a number of morning walkers and joggers, who make it a point to walk up the steep slope to burn off adipose or calories. This is but one side of the story for a walk up or walk down the steep slope would bring the morning walkers face to face with discarded plastic water bottles strewn by the roadside. This cannot be any move towards living up to the understanding of a Smart City. Take a walk along the Kanglapat road and one is sure to be greeted by the discarded plastic water bottles piled up just by the pedestrian lane. Quoting just some examples here to underline the point that so many things would need to be addressed to, besides strictly implementing the building bye laws in areas that come under the Imphal Municipal Corporation. It will need more than workshops and brain storming sessions to take Imphal anywhere near to a place that is liveable. It would be more than practical for the Government to implement what has been notified and at the same the public too need to come to their sense that the place belongs to them and it is their bounden duty to stop the widespread pollution. Imphal has been developed without any planning, but the least that everyone can do is not add to the filth and chaos that come from blindly turning it into a concrete jungle.