TODAY -

Poor roads impeding development goals
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: October 16, 2021 -



UNITED Committee Manipur (UCM) is not the first civil society to highlight developmental deficit in the hill areas and wouldn't be the last to air plight of the rural folks to draw the government's attention.

Having covered some hill villages to and fro during survey of the disputed boundary pillars along the Indo-Myanmar border belt and experiencing first hand poor condition of the roads, Committee president Joychandra Konthoujam perceived it prudent to ask the government of Manipur to produce a white paper on projects taken up in hill areas of the state.

The demand for putting in the public domain developmental initiatives taken up in the hill areas contradicts repetitive assertions by the present government that its goal is to bring uniform development in the state and as such the Committee's poser is certain to be reprehensible to the establishment.

Regardless of the government's claims about improvement in infrastructural development, it's known to all that poor road connectivity/condition has been the common issues not only for those settling in remote plain and hilly areas but even in many of the urban pockets.

The effect of dilapidated condition of road networks in the rural area is most conspicuous on the local population and the woes worst in the border villages.

Existing roads in hill areas not favourable for motor transport is also the main reason for villagers and civil societies to hold the government accountable whenever there are fatalities due to medical emergencies or the poor families denied their entitled share of government sponsored food-grains due to logistics issues.

Moreover, not many will disagree that the government spends comparatively small amount of fund on improvement of healthcare facilities in the remote rural pockets, especially in the hills, as the focus primarily remains towards ensuring smooth operation of hospitals located in densely populated urban and sub-urban areas.

This compels people in rural areas to seek help of traditional healers and quacks for taking the bumpy ride to avail healthcare service at far-off government facility is considered risky.

Absence of reliable healthcare centres in the rural areas have been exposed multiple times with numerous surveys revealing that in-spite of high prevalence of diseases in remote pockets, people do not spend much on treatment till the point of hospitalisation.

The reason is obvious as healthcare services are non-existent in almost all rural parts*of the state.

Apart from pathetic healthcare facilities, dilapidated condition of rural roads and inaccessibility to tap water remain the hallmark of rural Manipur.

Random illegal logging activities and inclement weather conditions might be some of the reasons for poor connectivity in the hilly rural areas but such pitiable situation contradicts claims by the governments of India and Manipur that numerous development projects have been implemented in the interior areas.

Thus, absence of basic infrastructure naturally deepens suspicion among the hill population that development fund is being diverted to the plains and central economic packages meant for hills siphoned off by valley dwellers, including elected representatives of the hill people.

Therefore, it is reasonable for the UCM to ask the government to bring out a white paper so as to ascertain whether development fund-reaches hills or not.



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