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Development of Infrastructure: An Analytical Assessment from Manipur Perspective

Moichingmayum Mustaque Alish Aijaja *



Infrastructure means the basic facilities which are necessary for the development of a nation. Infrastructure is the combination of basic facilities which is helpful in economic development of an economy and business. It includes facilities such as telecommunication, electricity, transportation, energy while social infrastructure is the combination of basic facilities which are necessary for human development.

The objective of the article is to examine the challenges of infrastructure in relation to development in Manipur. The analysis find that the provision of infrastructure was far below what is required for the state to attain the desire of highest development in India.

On 15th August 1947, with the lapse of paramountcy of the British crown, Manipur became briefly independent. A 'Manipur State Constitution Act,1947' was enacted, giving the state its own constitution, although this did not become known in other parts of India owing to the relative isolation of the kingdom. On 21st September 1949 Manipur was merged with the Indian Union.

It was once an independent princely state, which was taken over by the British in 1891. Sixty-Seven precious years and crores of rupees down the drain and the condition of the infrastructure in the state is far from satisfactory. What we have gained after all this inconclusive reports and committees and all these hectic on infrastructure are pot-holed roads, erratic power supply, inefficient health service and unutilised and under-utilised human resources.

In our scheme of things we have come to such a pass where the running of trains and planes on time has become an exception rather than the rule, where the roads of the state are in the most disastrous condition, over-crowded and full of pot-holed, where more than 20% of the state's children go without primary education, where the condition of the hospitals is the most pathetic, where the right to live is the sole privilege of the rich, who can buy medical help for themselves while the poor are left high and dry and made to fend for themselves.

What has really been the cause of things going that bad? Why is it that in spite of our enormous resources and vast manpower, we have had to stay with stunted growth? While other states of India have successfully gone about the task of development and progress? The sole answer for the above question is the lack of proper impetus on the infrastructure. Without proper impetus on the infrastructure our quest for growth, development and prosperity shall remain hamstrung.

Economic blocked, bunds and protest at different issue have added burning into the fire that have retarded the development of Manipur more. It's because of the government of Manipur had taken decision for the time being without having any vision. For the smooth functioning of any economy and society it is absolutely essential to have a very efficient and well-good infrastructure in place.

In fact, it would not be an overstatement if infrastructure is as pivotal in building of a state as the role of foundation in the construction of a building. Poor infrastructure blocks the situation in which the product of highly expensive education is so easily lost and bright young people have no hesitation to forsake the state without having made any contribution to the betterment of the society to where they belong?'' Poor infrastructure is a drag on economic growth as the country can't benefits of economic liberation.

To solve the chaotic state of affairs in the infrastructure it is most essential to delve deep into the malaise that has afflicted these sectors. From the very beginning a great amount of stress has been laid out on agriculture and small scale cottage industry but there has been a near total indifference and lack of concern towards various sectors of infrastructure. There is indeed no doubt about the relevance of primary growth sectors like industry but it is the most undeveloped sector in Manipur.

Roads and railways act as the sinews and blood vessels of the nation carrying essential commodities and services to different parts of the state. If these very sinews are not healthy, the development of a state would not be uniform being bloated at one place and choked at the other. Our state Manipur feel asphyxiated having a near total level of inaccessibility to the rest of the country. Railway is totally nil in our state. Central government have been neglecting railway construction at Manipur about 60 years after independence.

The people of Manipur face transportation problem most in the country than other state of India. This has been the cause of not just economic burden of Manipur on the rest of the country but of these parts being alienated from the rest of the country posing serious questions to the unity of the nation. So apart from the economic importance of road and railways, our social and political relevance cannot be underestimated.

In the last 67th years the road network in the state has grown very less, while the number of vehicles has grown over ninety times. Leave alone the condition of national and state highways in other parts of India, the condition of national, state and district highways in Manipur are dismal. The industry would succeed only if it is well connected to the various transit points for its produce. The reason why major industrial houses have shied away from Manipur is due to poor roads and railways.

And further law and order situation of our state is not good. There is also a need to improve the present condition of roads which remain potholed and cratered. Railway construction also need to be finished to ease the pressure on roads which bear two third of the total burden of traffic. "The most important step needed are education and health sector. All the resources available should be diverted at these sectors. It will naturally further the process of high growth."

The condition of 'power' is not much better either. Power is the rails on which runs the economy. The condition of power is so bad that even where it reaches, it is useless low voltage and low frequency. Populist measures like free electricity in certain area and rampant power thefts further compound the problems. Excessive reliance on thermoelectricity and very little interest shown on alternative and more abundant energy sources have not helped its cause.

It is high time the government gives up its myopic attitude towards electricity which literally 'empowers' any economy. People, they say, are the biggest resources of a nation whose potential 'if properly exploited and utilised' can change a sluggish economy to a fast track one. Is it not tragic then that all this power is left latent with no stress being laid on education? The literacy in Manipur has seen upward trend and is 76.94 as per 2011 population census.

In fact, we allow a bulk of our human resources go waste with almost more than 50% of the state's population working as unskilled labour. While higher education is no doubt very important, the primary education is the one which out to be given the maximum emphasis. The vast human resources even in the dearth of other economic resources will be self-sufficient to rejuvenate an ailing economy.

Health is another area of concern. The talk of growth and development look farcical in a state in which the Government cannot even ensure the bare minimum basic health service to its people. There is a condition that every time you drink water there is fear that you might get caught with epidemics like jaundice and typhoid which have been long forgotten in the west. The infrastructure of the state, district and town hospitals are really poor. Most of the people opt for private hospital.

I myself have faced one incident that was very hard to me at RIMS, Imphal before some years back. Doctors neglected the patients for long hours without giving even first aid. I requested them again and again. But at last I went to nearby private hospital. Government should give focus to develop health sector as a first priority.

The first step towards solving the various ills plaguing the infrastructure, the signals for which have been positive. Manipur government should decrease corruption at job selection, contract works, schemes and others. Development of infrastructure is the first needful step of the government. I hope the present government should be honestly work for the state.


* Moichingmayum Mustaque Alish Aijaja wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is Senior Research Fellow at C.A.S. Dept. of History, AMU, Aligarh. He can be reached at mustaqueamu(AT)gmaiul(DOT)com ; Facebook - Mustaque Alish Aijaja; Twitter - MM Alish Aijaja, INSTAGRAM - malishaija
This article was posted on May 05, 2017.


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