TODAY -

Lamka: An urban character with rural administration

Ninglun Hanghal *

 cleanliness drive at Churachandpur town on August 05 2017
cleanliness drive at Churachandpur town on August 05 2017 :: Pix - TSE



The Deputy Commissioner of Churachandpur District literally went around the headquarter town – Lamka to clean up its solid waste. He physically monitored the same. This is rather odd. It is not about whether the DC should be doing this or not, or questioning the “social service” or integrity of the Deputy Commissioner. It is about the urgent need for taking attention over the issue of solid waste and waste management. What should be done and how it should be done and who / which department or office should be the concern department/ office.

In a highly philanthropic society, the Deputy Commissioner’s actions did really impact the general mass psyche. The impact was so much that besides the applaud; ‘cleaning’ was considered the responsibility and duty of the Deputy Commissioner. At one of an NGO meeting on Climate Change in Lamka recently, an interactive sessions was held with the Youths. The subject of waste and waste management came up. The youths responded ‘straight forward’ that it is the duty of the Deputy Commissioner. While some opined that it is the duty of the District Council.

Over the years, Lamka town and adjoining areas has been facing numerous challenges in terms of water logging and most importantly floods, inundating residential colonies and agricultural lands. Strong flood have washed away huge areas of lands as well. Even less than an hour rain, public in Lamka is faced with water logging and flooding all over the town right in the middle of the commercial centers, the lanes and by-lanes of the residential areas . This is something that is alarming.

Meanwhile, Lamka is growing at an unprecedented scale. Migrations from rural and interior areas are increasing on a daily basis. Markets, commercial areas are cramped, unorganized and not systematized. People just seem to do what suits him/her as long as one manage to make hay while the sun shine. The only indication of administration is the police trying to maintain road safety in terms of checking helmets, or maintain law and order in terms of arresting bootleggers or drug peddlers, or a thief caught.

On the whole there is no system and governance of this upcoming city. It is messy, chaotic, dusty and unruly. Along with this mess is the human waste pilling up at an alarming rate. Every nook and corner of Lamka was clogged with waste. Huge dump of solid waste are deposited on streams and rivers ( that have mostly dried up and flooded once the rain comes). Road sides, corners in the lanes, drain/ nulla ( if any ) were all filled with waste.

Once in a while when the waste piles up, when the “stink” is unbearable, village level philanthropic organization would carry out a “social service” with technical and resource support from the local District Council members or some high profile individuals of the area.

Lamka has been facing flood and water logging in a large scale and the issue is compounding each passing day. This need to be looked at in the larger context of climate change and environment degradation wherein human and animal waste plays one of the major roles in contributing to it. This waste does not only comprise of human or animal excreta, but urban waste, plastics, commercial waste including e-waste and other waste from human activity.

It may-be mentioned that the two children who were drown in the Lanva river in June this year, reportedly went to the river to throw garbage into the river.

Lamka and its inhabitants, most importantly public leaders must realized that these waste are not merely about dumping of food waste and others nearby the colonies. If these wastes are not properly monitored or managed, it has the high potential of causing hazardous issues for the inhabitants, beyond health and hygiene.

It should also be noted that these urban solid waste / waste management is not something that merely should be taken up neither on a “philanthropy” level nor by an NGO or a CSO. The management – collection, disposal, monitoring and –recycling seriously need a proper system and administration. It is not a seasonal affairs nor something that should be done on a “voluntary” basis.

Recently the Autonomous District Council (ADC) office came up with a novel idea. That is, outsourcing the work of waste collection and disposal to selected NGOs in the district. In a situation where “everybody’s business is nobody’s business” the idea is not bad. This would perhaps give some employment to a few. Also help clean up a few areas. In the absence of nothing, something is better.

It is pertinent to note that Autonomous District Council is a rural set up. At the most it can administer development of a small town. The duty and responsibilities of Autonomous District Council is limited to development and does not include waste solid management. It also does not include burial and crematoriums beside other urban subjects.

Now, if a town continues to grow, the role and responsibility of administering and governing must also be reviewed. Systems of administration should be upgraded. In the case of Lamka, the town, which can safely be called a ( small) city, surely has all the urban characteristics and should be upgraded to a municipality and govern under a municipal board.

The transition should be done in such a way that traditional institutions such as Cheiftain-ship, or constitutional provisions for the tribal Hill areas are taken into considerations and are not affected.

Lamka, like it or not is growing, and it must not become like an over grown baby – an adult body with the brain of a child.


* Ninglun Hanghal wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on September 12, 2017.


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