TODAY -

The ill fated NH-37

Samarjit Kambam *

Pathetic / Deplorable section of NH-37 connecting Imphal and Jiribam :: Pix Credit :: Daniel Chabungbam
Pathetic / Deplorable section of NH-37 connecting Imphal and Jiribam :: Pix Credit :: Daniel Chabungbam



Decades have galloped by but NH 37, one of the national highways linking Manipur with mainland India passing through Silchar via Ziribam is still in a deplorable condition. Successive Works Ministers, Chief Ministers, many Ministers of State, Union Ministers and many hot shot bureaucrats of State as well as Central Government had assured that the highway will be made into an improved all-weather one. But such assurances turned out to be only lip-service or ass-surance(meaning shaking hands as well as kick-ass at the same time) and giving false hope and fooling the public.

In other way, it may be coined as a dog barking as well as wagging its tail simultaneously. During economic blockade of NH-2 (previously NH-39) which lasted for five-six months a few years back, the concerned ministers promised that NH-37, the alternative lifeline of Manipur will be repaired and maintained in such a way that we don't have to depend on NH-2, but the promises have vanished into thin air.

During such hard times where the common people are the main sufferers, the inspection of the despicable sites of the highway by concerned authorities and ministers from both State and Central Government was a ray of hope, a silver lining to the people for materialisation of a quality highway. Well, they came, they saw, they forgot. Meantime, the condition of the highway gets deteriorated day by day.

Such is the fate of NH 37. Due to bad transport facility Manipur is lagging behind in almost all spheres of development compared to its neighbouring states viz Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. Most of the visits and inspections by concerned authorities turned out to be only a game to gain political mileu.

Theatrical, histrionic, farcical, what a show! Taking into account the pace of development, Manipur will remain as "Manipur of our dream", a dream that may never materialise with the common people bearing the brunt of hardship. The affluent class of people travel by air, so NH-37 is no concern for them. At this it juncture, I think it is appropriate to mention that some youths of Manipur born with a silver spoon in their mouths are flying to metro cities to party at bars, jocular pubs, and DJ-ing discotheques at weekends and fly back at the beginning of the next week after enjoying the weekend. What an irony.

The recent inspection of certain sites of NH-37 by Union Minister of State Mr Jitender Singh gave high hopes and anticipation to the people of Manipur with his assurance that this highway will be made an "all weather road" after inspecting sites at Noney and Baraak area and some other sites of the highway, but the big question is "When will it become a reality?". Only God knows whether it might take a season, a year, a decade or a century.

There is no denying the fact that he came in a hurry and left so hurrily that the assurance he had made during inspecting the particular deplorable sites of the highway might have been forgotten on his way back as soon as he reach Bangalore the next day as his schedule was quite hectic and he had to further visit other sites such as DRDO, ISRO, etc.

Maybe, his visit was to enhance his career profile or 'just taken for granted' one from the Central Government as a political gimmick of its 'Look East Policy'. The carrot and stick tactic is what the leaders are playing, befooling the people again and again, taking them for a ride, giving them high anticipation but not result-oriented.

It would have been more appropriate if the Minister of State for Defence visited and inspected the Holenphai village which is located 3 kms South of Moreh Police station, adjacent to Border Pillar 76 where the Burmese army are hovering and trying to set up base camps. The two areas i.e. Noney and Baraak are not strategically defensive border areas with other neighbouring countries, so the big question nagging behind is, "Why is the Central Govt sending Minister of State for Defence instead of Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways? A big question, big enough to shadow the answer.

Many people from Manipur particularly students or those who are working in other cities of India gets a jolt whenever they return to their home state when they witness the unbearable slow pace of development works taking place in Manipur. Not only 'slow paced' but 'standstill'. Nothing could be truer. The works, if sincerely carried out by the government, it is only a matter of one or two weeks to repair and improve the condition of the deplorable sites stretching a few hundred metres.

Now the BRTF has also learnt the lesson of earning fast bucks, a lesson well learnt from the leaders of Manipur. They are charging fee at certain non-pliable stretch of the highway for towing each of the incoming as well as the outgoing transport or private vehicles in the name of non availability of required infrastructure.

Governments of other states of India may be wondering at the amount of time consumed to repair a few sites of a single national highway. No wonder, our state is the centre of attraction laughing stock in front of other states of India. After thorough introspection everything comes down to money. Some affluent class of people of our state are reaping lots of money as long as NH-37 remains pathetic in the name of contract works, infrastructure allotments, sharing of funds by doing virtual works. The common people of Manipur has also got accustomed to the 'standstill progress' and highly rated negligence by the related authorities of state government.


* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Expres. The writer is PA to Principal, Sainik School Imphal and can be contacted at kambamsamarjit[AT]gmail[DOT]com
This article was posted on September 05, 2013.


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