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Ongoing work of Northeastern Frontier Railway and the fate of four Villages in Imphal West, Manipur and various other villages in Manipur.

-  By: YFPHR

The ongoing work of the Northeastern Frontier Railway (NF Railway) in Manipur which is now part of India was started way back in 2008 which aim to bring development in the state of Manipur and also to make connect with other Indian states. The government of India also aimed to connect with other ASEAN countries in terms of trades and other economic developments, however, it indeed failed to cover social development of the Indigenous People of the state of Manipur.
Failure to cover the social development could be observed in four villages like Tairenpokpi, Atongkhuman, Sairemkhul, Phayeng Chingtaba which is just 19 km away from Imphal City. Since the work of the NF Railway reaches the area of the mentioned villages, NF Railway aggressively move ahead which resulted in destroying the natural water stream namely Ningthourok and Yembunglok which use to be the only water sources for these four villages. Earlier the water was brought from these two streams through pipelines which passes through Sheibung Village and filtered at a reservoir which was initiated under A.R.W.S. Scheme at Tairenpokpi by the Public Health and Engineering Department, Government of Manipur which is now lying defunct without any care. The reason for nonfunctioning of this water reservoir which use to be the only water source of these four villages is due to the blocking of water by the NF Railway for their Tunnel Construction which need large amount of water for mixing cement and other construction to complete their project without respecting the rights of the people of the area.
Almost a year have crossed and no water supply for domestic use and others since the water was diverted by the NF Railway for their utilization for the construction work. Only two ponds could be seen lying with very low quantity of water which is also not fit enough for consumption at Tairenpokpi Village. Though there are two to three Wells in the village, all are found dried up.
With regard to the issue of women and children is concern, women are facing hardship due to lack of water sources as they have to wake up early in the morning by 3 am and have to go around more than 3-4 KM to fetch the water for domestic use and others. The most unfortunate area is that children have denied to go to schools due to dusty and horrible road condition which are frequently passed by the 10 tiresloaded trucks carrying materials for the NF Railway construction. The frequent movement of the trucks breaks the sleep of the people in the area, especially the children may have negative health impact in the near future.  

Another serious concern is the water outlet from the Tunnel Construction which is highly suspect to have contained high level of cement are dumped at the small streams which passes through the agricultural land. The water from the streams are slowly spread out and the cemented particles are deposited at the agricultural field at a layer of 1 foot. As a result, the rice production and other agricultural products have declined tremendously and threatens the food sovereignty of the villagers who has access to more than 200 Hectares of agricultural land. The fishes and other aquatic animals which use to be found in the small streams have disappeared due to high scale pollution by the NF Railway Project which is of serious concern and need to response for the sustainable survival of these Indigenous Peoples of the area before making them internally displaced in the name of development. On the other hand, Tairenpokpi is also well known for its production of Heritage Wine but due to lack of water resources the production has declined tremendously and hampers their livelihood.
Similarly, there are hundreds of villages which was crossed by this NF Railway as “111-km-long Jiribam-Imphal railway line passed through steep rolling hills of the Patkai region and had to traverse through a number of deep gorges and over several rivers flowing at low ground levels. It aimed to construct 52 tunnels and now in its completion stage and 149 bridges, crossing 10 stations to sustain a suitable gradient for efficient operation of railway services to bolster trade relations with the ASEAN countries and also come handy in military operations and help tourism development” as mentioned by the Chief Engineer of the Project. Then how much destruction would have been made to these villages in Manipur by the NF Railway Project in the name of development with regard to the construction of 52 tunnels are concern. As only a Tunnel No. TT 12 which is located in between Tairepokpi and Sheibung have caused mass destruction of more than 200 hectares of paddy field, shortage of water supply and impacting the population of few thousands, then what would have caused by the other 51 Tunnels which have already been constructed in different areas by the NF Railways and can it only be compensated for the destruction caused. Who should be liable for such destructive activities in the name of development?
Is it a game by using the NF Railway to stop the water supply so as to make the people suffer and migrate to other areas in search of water? Is it as step to suppress the people by by snatching their right to food? Can we call this a development for the people?

Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents.

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