TODAY -

Sports University and agricultural land: Another fait accompli
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: August 29 2015 -



Definitely, a national level Sports University would come up at Yaithibi Loukon, Thoubal district. Indeed it is a matter of pride for all the people of Manipur that a prestigious institution of the highest stature entirely dedicated to sports and related fields is being set up in this tiny State after leaving out a dozen of much bigger States and cities.

No, the Government of India did not pick up Manipur randomly. Though located in one of the remotest corner of the country, the Government of India could not overlook Manipur when it comes to games and sports.

Apart from outperforming almost all the States of India, players and athletes from Manipur have been regularly bringing laurels to the country in many international competitions.

Indeed, National Sports University was a trophy won by our players and athletes through years of sweat, labour and excellence.

The Sports University as well as the additional funds pumped into the State’s sports sector from time to time are trophies won by the spectacular performances of players from Manipur in national and international competitions over the decades.

Hundreds of Manipuri players are currently playing for different States/clubs.

Yes, a spirit of sportsmanship handed down from generations to generations runs deep in the veins of Manipuri people.

The Government of India made the right decision by selecting Manipur for the prestigious National Sports University.

For construction of a National Sports University, the State Government formally handed over 336.93 acres of Yaithibi Loukon to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India on August 27.

This is a commendable step forward but we cannot help questioning the political wisdom of the State Government for selecting and obdurately sticking to its decision of setting up the university at Yaithibi Loukon.

As the name suggests, Yaithibi Loukon in Thoubal district is agricultural land, more precisely paddy land.

People of the area were opposing the Government’s design tooth and nail.

Yes tooth and nail and this was evident unmistakably during the violent confrontation between police and protesters at Sora in November last year.

The protest rally against the proposed sports university manifested strong dissent, anger and also a deeply entrenched fear.

The State needs to understand that paddy fields represent life and livelihood for the peasants. Depriving farmers off their fields is a direct challenge to right to life.

It was this fear of deprivation that fuelled the violent confrontation between the unarmed villagers and armed police.

Indeed, the Sports University would be a huge asset not only for the State but also for the whole country but it should not be at the cost of forfeiting the source of livelihood of thousands of people.

The State can definitely set up the sports university and at the same time spare all agricultural lands.

Again there is the Manipur Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act 2014 which was enacted by the incumbent State Government with the primary objective of conserving paddy land and wetland in order to promote agricultural sector in the State.

The contradiction or incongruence between the law-makers and the law they enacted is simply stark, striking and obnoxiously unpalatable.

Certainly, we will see a sports university in the State and we would also lose 400 acres of prime agricultural land.

The State Government has committed another fait accompli which could have been easily avoided if the Government was not so obdurate.

It appears that the Government firmly believes in the saying ‘something must be destroyed to build something else’.



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