Leaving a trail of destruction Devastating hailstorm

The extent of the damage caused by the hailstorm is gradually beginning to sink in though the finer details of exactly how many dwelling houses were damaged, standing seasonal crops destroyed and the losses incurred by the public are yet to be worked out. The hailstorm accompanied by exceedingly strong wind that followed a trail, lasted for just about 30/40 minutes but it was enough to leave a trail of destruction. Even as the storm was on, pictures of giant hailstones penetrating through the tinned roofs, pictures of road littered with hailstones, pictures of giant hailstones with some that would have weighed at least more than a kilogram, pictures of worksheds being blown away, uprooted trees etc went viral on the social media. Many vehicles ranging from two wheelers to four wheelers including cars of different makes could be seen damaged substantially. Power supply too was snapped at numerous locations across Imphal and the same must be true in some hill districts. The Sangai Express has already received reports of the damages caused by the hailstorm and the strong wind at Noney. In line with the large scale devastation caused, Chief Minister N Biren responded promptly and promised that the Government would extend all possible help to all those whose standing properties including residential houses were damaged and urged all to submit reports along with the relevant pictures to the respective Deputy Commissio- ners as soon as possible, to enable the Government to extend all possible assistance. The Government too has set up hotline numbers for all the districts of Manipur for people to call in and avail Government assistance. Prompt, one would say and one hopes that the losses incurred in the hailstorm are worked out as soon as possible. Tough to say if the losses incurred would fall in line with the Orange Alert sounded by the India Meteorological Department some days back and one is left wondering if the relevant department/s of the State Government had taken the caution sounded by the IMD seriously or not. This was nature at is devastating form and it would help if environmentalists can chip in with their knowledge of how the damages could have been lessened if nature was not tinkered with, such as large scale deforestation. As the damages caused by the hailstorm began the sink in, comments and observations began to flood the social media with many recalling that this is the first time they had seen a hailstorm of such severity in the last 30/40 years. Call it wrath of nature or whatever one may like, but the severe hailstorm that lashed the State on May 5, 2024 should be a reminder to Manipur, that the place and her people are just a minuscule presence on the stage called earth and it absolutely makes no sense to continue exploiting nature.
How long it would take the Government to work out the losses and extend the assured assistance to the affected people remains to be seen, but it is encouraging to note that the Chief Minister took no time in assuring all possible help. The task now should be to work out the losses suffered in the hailstorm accompanied by heavy rain and ensure that all possible assistance are provided to the affected people. Here it would do good for all to remember that people living in pucca houses would not have been as badly affected as those living in tin roofed houses and the Government should work to extend the assistance keeping this fundamental reality in mind. Apart from Noney it is as yet not very clear how much damages the hill districts suffered. One also wonders if any of the different relief centres set up across the State fell on the path of the strong wind that followed a trail. Priority should be given to those living in the relief centres, if they are affected. Severe hailstorm hitting the State even as Manipur has just completed one year of the ethnic clash, compounding the sufferings of the people, and the sense of tragedy is overwhelming. How things work out in the coming days to resolve the year long conflict remains to be seen, and this is all the more reason for the Government to continue with its effort to put things back on track. Manipur has been buffered into two zones for far too long and this defeats the understanding of this once princely Nation a distinct geo-political reality.