TODAY -

NH-39: Life Line or Death Line?

Peter Ki *



Conspiracy theories about the ill-maintenance of the National Highway-39 abound. One of them is that the state government is willfully ignoring the plight of the people along the national highway. Meanwhile, the government is focusing all attention as well as funds for the development and upkeep of National Highway-53, so the theory goes. Another theory is that the funds for the repair of the national highway have been swindled by a few unscrupulous people. Just like all conspiracy theories, these too are hard to prove. But their prevalence is an unmistakable pointer to the general dissatisfaction of the populace with the government’s inaction.

The condition of the NH-39 is poorest between Senapati town and Mao town in Senapati district of Manipur. In traveling from Maram town to Senapati town, I had first hand experience of the road. Potholes and stretches of roads without tar resulted in tremendous amounts of dust being raised. People haplessly tried to cover their mouths and noses with pieces of clothes. But they weren’t of much help. The immediate effect could be seen. People coughed and sped out sputum in good measure. In the evening, while interacting with an educationist in a local school, I complained about how I was choking with the dust from the national highway. Without missing a beat, he said: "What you have experienced is just for a day; we endure it every day".

A co-passenger, who worked on rural health, made a few general comments that was revealing. He said the dusty road was resulting in the degeneration of the people. The dust filled with germs was responsible for asthma, sinus problems, sore eyes, common cold, cough, sustained sneezing, headache, etc. The unmistakable outcome is decreased productivity, leading to even more poverty, on account of poor health. So if NH-39 is the life line of the metropolitan city Imphal it is the death line for inhabitants along the national highway.

It is hard to understand why the state government is not doing anything about the national highway. Could it be that legislators themselves do not often travel the road? Is it because more often than not they fly to their destinations? May be it is because they fail to feel the pinch of the dusty road. May be that is why they are least bothered about the condition of NH-39. They are yet to come up with a good explanation to convince us otherwise. In the end, if poverty doesn’t kill us, the dusty road will. May be the conspiracies noted in the beginning of this article are not true. But further neglect of the pitiable condition of the national highway will only serve to strengthen the position of their proponents.


* Peter Ki contributes for the first time to e-pao.net. The writer can be contacted at pkmaram[AT]gmail[DOTcom>
This article was webcasted on February 22nd, 2010.




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