Need for alternative options
- Imphal Times Editorial :: February 11 2017 -
The valley areas of Manipur including the state capital which constitute a meagre 10 percent of the total area of the state have the unique and unenviable distinction of sheltering almost 90 percent of the entire population of Manipur.
The resulting increase in pressure for land, food and amenities can only escalate further, and while the population in the state has been crying for amendments and reforms in the land use policies which will allow settlers to own and utilize land in the hills whereby vast areas of still unutilized wastelands and forests will be sustainably tapped and developed to generate economic benefits in a sustainable manner, the unrelenting pace of progress have magnified the pressure with demands for land and resources which are already stretched to the limit.
The situation is not peculiar to Manipur only, as almost every landlocked and hilly region everywhere is struggling with the same dilemma for ages.
The present turmoil in the state caused by the prolonged indefinite economic blockade called by the UNC is perhaps the most vivid manifestation of the actual need to draw up a pragmatic and realistic roadmap to ease the transition from the archaic decrees and declarations of preventing valley dwellers from owning and utilizing the hill areas so that the people and the myriad communities can embrace the inevitable change which is bound to happen, either through confrontations or consultations.
What one also finds worrisome, however is the abrupt and hasty acquisition of lands for various development projects in Manipur which are more of ‘Pride Projects’ rather than practically implemented and well-maintained efforts.
While it may be argued that there is an increasing lack of options or “alternative options”, given the shrinking availability of alternative land for taking up these vital development projects which are aimed at uplifting the standard of life of the public, there remains the fact that there are still yet to be developed patches of unutilized spaces which might have served the very purpose better while leaving these fertile lands for producing food.
While the spontaneity and positivity of the intent deserves commendation, it also indicates the lack of a long term vision and concern for the common man.
Also, while lands and resources for various developmental projects are allocated with alacrity, the progress and workmanship of these projects leaves much to be desired.
In a state as ours where moving a file, opening a door or even initiating a communication requires financial considerations, every and any so called public development work is destined to fail, only for the very simple reason that there is still no mechanism in place to ensure its speedy and successful implementation.
The government, in all its collective wisdom, would fare much better if and when it adopts a radical approach which emphasizes on the actual implementation and completion rather than on planning and inaugurating projects and schemes.
And while the collective think tank of the elected representatives are at it, the most important aspect of bringing about the inevitable radical change in land holding laws should be given the greatest priority if the continuity of the state as a distinct entity is to be ensured.
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