Sanjenthong and Sangai festival


Will there not be a new Sanjenthog minus the Sangai festival? Chief minister Okram Ibobi during his visit to Sanjenthong has given hope to the people that the construction of the bridge will be completed before the advent of Sangai festival. We are not sure whether the commuters will share his optimism or not. But one thing is certain that there is a deficit of trust on any project taken up by the government. Take for instance the Dolaithabi multi-purpose project. The project seems to have faded out of the public memory. The CM’s visit to the site on May 2 and the project engineer’s statement that the dam will be completed by March 2015 have refreshed our memory. One becomes wakeful of the fact that the project is still dragging on as if in a stupor. Who would believe that the project is older than some of the media person who went to cover the recent visit of CM at the site? Survey work of the project took off in 1980. The actual ground work started in 1992. Ever since, minister after minister have been visiting the site. The then IFCD minister N Biren accompanied by the then PHED minister TN Haokip have also visited the site in 2007. They have expressed their hope of the project getting completed by the year 2009. Now after two decade of the project’s initiation, we are assured again that it will get completed by March next year. All spokespersons of the government have given the same alibi: ‘law and order problem’ and ‘frequent bandh and blockade’. These are the reasons for incompletion of the project. The same reasons are also applicable for the French sewerage project. We will get to know more of the project’s completion after the next visit to the sewerage plant by some ministers along with their officials. Whereas a few months’ time for completing the works of Sanjenthong, as given by the CM, then will enter history as the record for fastest ever completion of a project by the government of Manipur, but only if it meets the deadline. Sanjenthong Bridge besides having been the arterial connectivity of the twin districts of Imphal, the CM has underscored its importance by associating it with the Sangai festival. If this is not a lopsided sense of priority than what else could it be. Is not it farcical that an annual shopping jamboree like the Sangai festival can promise the completion of a government project within a record time? Each year the town would be painted red with the coming of the said festival. Tress along the roads will be decked up with lights like a shoddy Christmas tree. Children’s school vehicles will be diverted giving little thought of the time that gets wasted because of it. Over jealous policemen will guard the festival venue like a fortress. A few guests from Thailand and Myanmar will be roped in to give an international look of the bazaar. A few song and dances from the hills and the valley for the sake of ‘cultural show’, and they called it tourism festival. We would restate the opening line of the column: will there not be a new Sanjenthong minus the Sangai festival? If at all Sangai festival can boost efficiency of governmental projects, we suggest, Sangai festival should be held at different places of Manipur. Most preferably at the places where multi-crore projects are being taken up, so that the projects get completed in time before the festival arrives. We can well understand how smitten the government is with their current romance with tourism. They have repeatedly claimed that tourism is the best way to bring development in the state. That is best left to be seen and debated. But the simple truth is one cannot start painting the house even before the foundations are laid.


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