One day after devastating hailstorm Price of tin sheets and others

The Government did respond promptly. Even as reports of the devastation caused by the hailstorm and rain continued to pour into the office of The Sangai Express on May 5, 2024 came reports of the Chief Minister assuring all possible assistance to the people whose houses and standing properties have been destroyed with instructions to submit reports accompanied by photographs of the damaged structures to the respective Deputy Commissioners. Setting up hotlines in all districts fell in line with the prompt response of the Government and capping this off was the notice from the Deputy Commissioner of Imphal West seeking reports of the damages suffered by the people. Prompt it was one may say for the standing instructions of the Chief Minister came even as finer details of the devastation caused by the hailstorm and heavy rain were being collected. This however is not the end of it all. As a retired Professor suggested, this is now the right time for the Government to immediately constitute an Experts Committee to assess the damages and also to identify the economically weak section as well as those understood to be socially backward. One wonders what steps the Government has started working on, that is a full day after the devastating hailstorm and rain, but it is disconcerting to note what has gone viral on the social media. With the tinned roofing of so many dwelling houses perforated and blown away, it was expected that many would make a beeline for the places where the tin sheets or Zingkhas are sold. Along with the beeline at these shops came reports, again via the social media, that prices of the tin sheets had shot up in no time, prompting a prominent cultural organisation to go about physically checking whether the prices of the tin sheets have been jacked up or not. Says something significant that it was not any Government agency which went about keeping a tab on the price of the tin sheets, but a voluntary cultural organisation. Of course this is not the first time that this has happened, for in the past it had always fallen on the shoulder of voluntary organisations, particularly student organisations to keep a check on the price of essential commodities at the eve of any festival or whenever there was a disturbance in the flow of goods and essentials from outside the State. Much more is expected from the tom tommed double engine Government, for the very fact that a voluntary organisation has come forth to ensure that the affected people are not milched at this time of misery should say something very significant.
The task before the Government should be clear. Apart from the Deputy Commissioners receiving reports of the damage directly from the people, the Government should now constitute an Expert Committee to thoroughly study and assess the damage caused by the hailstorm and heavy rain. The Government should also put into action its price control mechanism/s and ensure that the affected people are not cheated by unscrupulous traders, who may not hesitate to make a killing out of the misery of the people. On the day the devastating hailstorm and rain made a landing on Manipur, The Sangai Express reported Chief Minister N Biren Singh as having asserted in a social media post that Manipur lost 877 square kilometres of forest cover from 1987 to 2021. This meant that the forest cover in Manipur shrank from 17,475 square kilometre in 1987 to 16,598 square kilometre in 2021. That is a loss of 877 square kilometre of forest cover in a span of 34 years. Mind boggling are the words the Chief Minister used and while all would fall in line with this observation, it would help all that much more if the service of experts may be roped in to establish the drastic climatic change that Manipur has experienced down the years with the shrinking forest cover. Moreover it would also help enormously if the May 5 devastating hailstorm and rain accompanied by strong gusts of wind can be linked with the shrinking forest cover. The hailstorm and wind was nature at its devastating form, but perhaps its severity and the damages it wrought on the place and the people would have lessened if due respect was paid to Mother Nature. Remember the Meiteis worship Umang Lai to this day and this should say something very significant.