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Made In Manipur

If you fit into the class of one those mean minded, selfish and prone to be jealous of the achievements of the next door neighbor or your colleagues and is willing to walk the extra mile or even commit blue murder, to cast someone in bad light or even make sure that any perfectly or nearly perfectly charted out plans and processes to be dubbed the flop of the year, then the best thing would be to advise that the plans for the project be handed over to the Government of Manipur to implement it and Bingo !, you would have easily achieved your devilish and mischievous agenda and most importantly no fingers will be pointed at you and the blame will surely go to your ‘friend’ on whom you planted the idea of referring his project to the Government of Manipur for implementing it and as for the Government of Manipur they will hum-haw their way through, for accountability is an alien concept to them.

Ultimately it is a win-win situation for you! The suggestions we have given may sound ludicrous and if there are any conscientious officer or political leader in our midst, it would surely prick their conscience, for we have not plucked this idea from thin air. It surely must take some herculean efforts or extra-human endeavors to take more than 20 years to complete a hydro project which is aimed at producing 9 megawatts of power-the Khuga dam. The history of this damned dam will prove amusing as well as frustrating if we recount its history!

Many of the young readers who are going through this may not have been born that time, but in a queer quirk of fate or co-incidence, the Khuga Dam was commissioned more than 20 years back when Dr Manmohan Singh was the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. The story does not end here, for again it was Mr. Singh who gave a new lease of life to this doomed project by assuring all help to revive it, during his visit to the State as Prime Minister in 2004, following the days of protest and demand for the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, after the bullet riddled body of Th. Manorama was found after she was picked up by Assam Rifles men the previous evening.

At the time, when Mr. Singh was at the helm of affairs at the Planning Commission, no one would have thought that he would tread the path of politics, much less, become the Prime Minister but it is interesting as well as amusing, in part, to note the fact that the same man who was instrumental in commissioning the Khuga Project should issue the necessary directive for the process of reviving the forgotten project, as the Prime Minister and not as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. The stories of ups and downs associated with Khuga Dam are not likely to end soon, given the fact that a number of contractors have raised their voice of dissent and have even sent representatives to Delhi to personally intimate to the Prime Minister that inaugurating such a sub-standard dam would be demeaning to the chair of the Prime Minister. This is tough talk, no doubt about it.

The precursor of things to come were quite evident  from the numerous instances and which were reported in the local dailies of some technical snags going wrong at the dam site or how the water has breached the canal and flooded the paddy fields lying near by etc. Now if only Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had the wisdom or was advised to hand over the revival of the said dam to a company or some other agency, having nothing to do with the State Government, then the script of Khuga dam would have taken a different direction, minus the farce, though it would have robbed the people of its ‘entertainment value.’ It would be unfair if we end the story with Khuga Dam.

The 2004 visit of the Prime Minister was significant in many ways, even without referring to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or the evacuation of Assam Rifles from Kangla, but also for giving a fillip to numerous other projects which had to be left midway because, well because, the job was entrusted to the Government of Manipur-nothing surprising here.

We cannot stretch back our memory to the time that the Maphou Dam was commissioned, or maybe, we have become confused because there are just too many uncompleted projects, but yes Maphou Dam ought to have seen the light of day years back. Imagine if the two mentioned projects were on track. Manipur would surely have presented a different look today.

The 2004 visit of the Prime Minister also saw the foundation stone for the Capitol Project being laid, but today no one seems to know the progress of this work and keeping this away from the scrutiny of the public is not only the selective silence of the Government, but also the high wall encircling this precinct, with CGI sheets ! Some progress seem to be happening on the rail line track, but the deadline for its completion has been extended more than once and no one will be surprised if a fresh deadline is set again.

So even as Manipur offers the perfect bait to the mean minded elements to pull down and make a fool of their colleagues out of sheer jealousy, the greatest tragedy at the moment is, this class of mean minded people are amongst the elected members and their chamchas, you know, those kind, who sit in front of the Minister’s cars and are always seen with a note pad and a pen or pencil, noting down the names of the visitors! No wonder, Manipur has a department called the Irrigation and Flood Control Department, which does nothing about irrigation or controlling flood!

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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