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EDITORIAL: Protracted Projects

As expected, development works which are meant for common good are welcomed by one and all though these projects may entail certain inconveniences and difficulties to the public for some period of time. But at the end, all these difficulties and inconveniences are endured or overlooked thinking that these are for common good and a better tomorrow. In the last five/six years, we have seen many cases of eviction and acquisition of land which were erstwhile owned privately. Capital Complex at Chingmeirong, City Convention Centre at Palace Compound, expansion of Tulihal Airport, rail-fed oil depot at Malom, expansion of highways and roads, implementation of multi-purpose projects etc, all entailed eviction and acquisition of land. All these projects caused immense hardship and mental agony to large sections of the people. Even as there were very vocal voices of protest and dissent, people ultimately swallowed all the hardships silently thinking that these projects are for common good and a better future.

The very rationale that development projects cannot be executed without some damages here and there informs us that the aggrieved sections would accept the projects considering the benefits and results that would be reaped from the projects. So far, so good. But this is not exactly the case in Manipur. Very often, several projects have been causing serious difficulties to the public for protracted periods without any reason or rhyme. In many cases, it is not incommoding the public for some welfare or development projects; rather it is harassment of the public for reasons quite unnecessary and inexplicable. It is such lethargic and inefficient manner of executing projects that breeds annoyance and even contempt among the public towards the Government and the executing authority.

The ongoing sewerage project is one such project which has evolved into a sort of harassment to the public over the last few years. There are many other projects which have been dragging on for years thereby causing unnecessary harassment to the public. Sewerage project has already earned the notoriety of causing untold but unnecessary misery to the public for no valid reasons for the last many years. A few years back, people had to trudge on muddy roads during rainy season and over dusty roads in winter in addition to unprecedented congestion in all roads in and around Imphal city on account of digging out these roads for the sewerage project. Even today, the busy RIMS road which is the most important road leading to the biggest hospital of the State is closed to the public, again because of the sewerage project.

This is not the case of incommoding the public for some period for the sake of development projects as we talked in the opening sentences of this editorial. Rather, this is an exact case of harassing the public without any valid reason. The nature of executing these projects is more akin to the popular saying about GREF workers. It says that GREF workers put back already raised spades on their shoulders because the bell informing the end of working hours has just rung. It goes without saying that blocking busy roads for protracted periods in the name of development projects while working in GREF style all these years as in the case of the infamous Khuga Project rather than executing the projects on war-footing would not do anything good except breeding contempt and harsh censure from the public.

It is also in everybody’s knowledge that delaying projects means escalating project costs in addition to inviting wrath from the public. It is not about the sewerage project alone, there are many projects in different parts of the State which are being executed in GREF style. Such style of executing projects cannot be justified with the rhetoric that certain inconveniences must be faced while taking up development projects. It is the wish of the people that all projects are executed in time without undue delay. The Government needs to be sensible enough to read that people’s patience has been already stretched to an intolerable limit.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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