It was hardly a month ago that Manipur was declared a drought-hit state when the heavens opened up in fits and starts. While farmers heaved a sigh of relief for what it is all worth, the roads and lanes across the valley welled up with the briefest of spell with some stretches of roads going under knee-deep water. Clearly, the inability of so called town planners and ‘certified’ authorities to learn and adapt from the system of ‘khongbal/n’ or traditional drainage system which has served the valley for so long and with clinical efficiency perfected over the years has been laid bare, yet once again. Perhaps the lure of personal benefits in the process of doling out contracts has blinded these authorities to the importance and necessity of maintaining a systematic and effective drainage system. But no one can escape the consequences of such oversight, especially with a few minutes of rain bringing out the murky wastewater into the roads and breaking up the roads in the aftermath, not to mention the dangers of breeding mosquitoes and other water-borne diseases which pose a threat to everybody.
While the present government might, in all fairness and possibility, put the blame on the inefficiency of the previous party in power, the focus now should be on rectifying such mistakes or blunders and not indulge in blame-games any longer. Another trait that the present government can do without is the constant comparisons being made to highlight its ‘achievements’ vis-a-vis the previous government. The public need not be reminded repeatedly as to why the previous party in power was almost voted out - almost- because despite losing the scramble for power, it still remains the party with a majority win and the present government should do well to remind itself of this uncomfortable fact. And while the issue of drainage or rather the lack of one in the valley might be labeled a non-issue considering the myriad other problems and challenges staring the present government in the face despite its labored attempt to present otherwise, the dream of a smart city cannot be fulfilled without a proper and well-planned drainage system supported by a systematic and efficient waste disposal mechanism which is sorely absent at present.
An effective means towards achieving a well-planned drainage or sewage system could be to evaluate and carry out a comprehensive survey to understand and form a base for drawing up a sustainable plan of action taking into account the topography of the land. The present way of constructing drainage without following the natural contour or slopes should be stopped immediately and concern authorities should ensure proper guidelines and norms are followed by the contractors and workers while taking up such works. While it must be said that the present government is actively carrying out development activities and trying to improve the public infrastructure, there is still a few areas of concern especially with regards to the method of implementation, and if a stricter means of control can be placed in this regard then the positive outcome will definitely be visibly different.
Everything new should not be considered good or better, and tradition should be respected especially with regards to social mores and conventions, as adapting to these age old customs can solve a lot many modern day challenges. It is these small details that will ultimately determine the success or otherwise of grand dreams. A smart city inundated with dank and stinky sewage isn’t a pleasant prospect after all.
Jeet Akoijam, Resident Editor of Imphal Times hails from Singjamei Liwa Road. Has been with Imphal Times since its start. A National level Rugby player and a regular Trekker and Nature Lover, loves spending time in lap of Mother Nature. Jeet is the father of two lovely kids. Jeet can be contacted at [email protected]