TODAY -

Ukhrul Town Sanitary Movement and its social evil

Ramachan A Shimray *



The recent episode in Ukhrul between All Hunphun Tang Association (AHTA) and Ukhrul Town Women Vendors Association (Zaoranao Sin-shim) in the name of Ukhrul Town Sanitation Movement has brought grave concern for all the inhabitants of Ukhrul. This short piece of writing is an attempt to address the ongoing issue by highlighting few concerns and reasons as I belong to the community.

On 15th March 2018, CEO of Autonomous District Council, Ukhrul had notified the Ukhrul Town Women Vendors Association (Zaoranao Sinshim) to evacuate the Ukhrul street within three days from the date of order (i.e. 16, 17, 18 of March, 2018 to be evacuated). But the president of Zaoranao Sin-shim Mrs. M.Y. Onmila said that volunteers of AHTA dismantled the stalls located near Viewland Church, footpaths of town hall and ZEO office on 16th March 2018. (Published in The Sangai Express on 22nd March, titled Women Vendors Protest Eviction).

On 20th March 2018, Mr. Chonmi Raleng, President of AHTA stated in the Imphal Fress Press titled, AHTA Ushered in For Clean Ukhrul that "hundreds of temporary street vendors shed constructed at the roadside of Ukhrul town was dismantled today and steps has been taken up with an aim to keep the town clean and comfortable for the commuters. Moreover, the haphazard dispose of waste by the street vendors has led to blockage of drainage".

On 21st March 2018, Zaoranao Sin-shim submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister of Manipur through the Deputy Commissioner, Ukhrul District. It stated that "on 16th March 2018 All Hunphun Tang Association (AHTA) served a three (3) days quit notice without alternative arrangement.

Subsequently, on 19th March 2018, the volunteers of the said association came and vandalised without showing any sense of humanity'. One should notice here that ADC had issued notice on 15th March and subsequently on 16th March, AHTA gave a similar eviction notice giving three days time to evict, but the eviction drive started from 16th March as per allegation by Zaoranao Sin-shim. Further the ultimate drive to dismantle happened on 19th March which raises a doubtful question on the proceedings and agenda of the AHTA.

On 22nd March 2018, Zaoranao Sinshim staged a sit-in protest against the dismantling of their stall. It is also reported that former chairman of Ukhrul ADC Dr Yaronsho Ngalung, verbally permitted the women venders to occupy the roadside stalls and run their daily business activities.

On 24th March 2018, AHTA gave a response to Zaoranao Sinshim's memorandum to Chief Minister through Imphal Free Press titled, AHTA Clarifies. Stating that AHTA has never issued any 'Quit Notice' to the women street vendors, instead they had formally met with their representative in AHTA office on 16th March 2018 and asked them to evacuate their stall in view of Ukhrul Town Sanitation Movement. On failure to evacuate their stall, the press note read that the volunteers of AHTA dismantled the sheds on 19th March. AHTA also stated that a suggestion for an alternative arrangement at Wino Bazaar and Awontang Market Shed was turned down by the women vendors in 2017.

Reading from the above events and statement, it seems both the parties have legitimate concerns. However, drawing from the above arguments there are basic fundamental questions that needs to be addressed. It seems there is no clarity in proceedings or negotiation in the name of Ukhrul Town Sanitation Movement.

Whether AHTA is the right body or legal authority seems to be out of question as Ukhrul Town Sanitation Movement is a civil movement. But clearly, there has been a misuse of power in the guise of social responsibility, when civil organization like AHTA dismantles the private properties of women street vendor. Their actions speaks volume of the highhandedness of male dominated civil organisation especially when the victims are women and from poor families.

Further, there are some few questions that needs to be asked i.e, whether did the ADC, Ukhrul gave the authority to AHTA to dismantle within three days or not? If not, what makes AHTA to boldly decide to evict and dismantle without giving any proper alternative arrangement? Is Zaoranao Sinshim the only source of haphazard and blockage of drainage? Can't the Ukhrul Town Sanitation Movement begin without dismantling stalls since the women market complex has not completed?

Another cause of concern is that, there is no clarity on who will get to occupy stalls once the women market complex is completed. So, dismantling of street vendors without proper assessments is seen as an agenda to disorganize the Zaoranao Sinshim and replace it with women street vendors favored by AHTA and ADC. This allegation stem from unavailability of proper provision by concern authorities to allocate stalls at the market complex now in construction.

What will happen to those who could not get allocation to occupy in the women market complex? How will they generate income if they could not get allocation even after years of selling in the street? This is a way of inviting corruption by AHTA and ADC, Ukhrul through the Ukhrul Town Sanitation Movement.

The action of AHTA and ADC are fallacious for seeing the street vendors as 'blocking the drainage' or 'haphazard disposer'. They do not acknowledge that street vendors are doing so to earn their daily livelihood and adding to economy. Had they thought about street vendors positively, they would have negotiated in the spirit of humanity and this act of forceful dismantling of stalls might not have happened.

Instead of cleaning, their action have driven in social evils and caused division among the general mass. This brutal dismantling is a demoralizing act which doesn't hold any moral and rationality in the place where majority people are Christian.

The Ukhrul Town Sanitation Movement would progress better if it petitioned the concern authorities to expedite the ongoing construction of women market complex instead of demolishing the existing street vendors. In the meantime, the concern authorities should make strategy to clean the town in a holistic approach without inviting incoherency.

Making the town clean is everyone's concern but this cannot be achieved at a cost of women losing their livelihood to support their families. Brutal act of force with demoralizing and demeaning action is a complete antithesis of what Mahatma Gandhi did, on whose principle the current Swachh Bharat cleanliness drive is derived from.

In conclusion, educating the citizen on ecology should be a fundamental force in driving Ukhrul Town Sanitation Movement and not forceful action leading to loss of property and peace.




* Ramachan A Shimray wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on April 02 , 2018.



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