TODAY -

The letter of WKZIC to ADB
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: February 09, 2024 -



IN a classic case of "empty vessels making the most noise," World Kuki-Zo Intellectual Council (WKZIC) recently wrote a letter to Masatsugu Asakawa, the president of Asian Development Bank (ADB), requesting cancellation of the sanction order for construction of the Rs 1,760 crore-lmphal Ring Road project in Manipur, which has been roiled by an unprecedented ethnic conflict that broke out between the Meetei and Kuki-Chin communities since May 3 last year.

In the letter dated February 3 with Ref No 01-02/02/WKZIC(Estd)/2024, WKZIC cited the ongoing violence and the possible misuse of the fund by the government of Manipur in procuring arms and ammunition to target the Kuki-Chin people.

The letter signed jointly by one Tongjathang Haokip and Chungjalen, who are said to be the president and secretary general respectively of WKZIC, categorically asserted, "it will be a prudent decision to cancel the project of Manipur State which the communal Meitei-centric State government will certainly use for supporting the state militias viz: Arambai Tenggol, Meetei Leepun and banned insurgent groups and procuring arms and ammunition for attacking Kuki-Zo people which is against the objectives of ADB to reduce poverty in Asia and Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration."

To prove its point, the letter recalled "a very recent case" wherein the World Bank allegedly stopped payment of next instalment after the first instalment of 57.50 million dollars had been allegedly misappropriated by the government of Manipur for the purpose of procuring armoury vehicles, ammunition, drones and sophisticated weapons.

The letter of WKZIC has not been very specific about when the World Bank had sanctioned the amount and for what purpose.

And, that is from where every fantastical allegation made by WKZIC against the government of Manipur in its letter to the president of Asian Development Bank (ADB) has gone down the drain on its own.

Keeping aside the question of locus standi of WKZIC, which had already been declared as an unlawful organisation by the government of Manipur under Section 3 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 for its role in fomenting the current conflict, and the credibility of Tongjathang Haokip and Chungjalen, who have been terminated from the membership of the organisation on January 29, 2024, in writing letter to the president of Asian Development Bank (ADB); they definitely need to get the facts straight before doing or saying anything.

The "very recent case" of World Bank stopping release of fund they cited without specifics in the letter as the most pertinent point for considering cancellation of sanction order for Imphal Ring Road project could at best be described as wishful thinking.

For the knowledge of all poor souls out there who think it as their birth right to blame others for their own misfortune, we would like to put on record that the World Bank gave its approval to the Manipur Infotech-enabled Development, a project for promotion of digital skills and entrepreneurship and secure the foundation of digital governance in Manipur in July, 2023.

Conceptualised in 2022 at a cost of 57.50 million dollars, out of which 46 million dollar was to be funded by the World Bank and the rest borne by the state government, the project was scheduled to commence under the stewardship of Cyber Corporation of Manipur Ltd from last year.

But it has remained stalled after the Canada-based North American Tribal Association (NAMTA), which was floated just three days after the outbreak of conflict in Manipur, raised objection and wrote a letter to World Bank president Ajay Banga on July 19, 2023.

So, where does the question of government of Manipur misusing 57.50 million dollars sanctioned by the World Bank as first instalment in procuring sophisticated arms and ammunition arise, forget about stopping payment of the next instalment.

Do WKZIC and any of its terminated "members on probation" have any answer to this question?

We have good reason to doubt it, nor could expect any from an empty pot, which not only make the most noise but also has no shame in calling the kettle black.



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