Rage over shifting of district hospital
REGARDLESS of the clarification issued by the health and family welfare minister L Jayantakumar that shifting of construction site of the Imphal East district hospital from Sagolmang to Kyamgei is due to lack of consensus over land acquisition, people of Khundrakpam assembly constituency under which Sagolmang falls, have every reason to suspect that change of site is a political plot. If at all land dispute is the lone obstacle for relocating the hospital from the earlier site there is no reason why people of Khundrakpam should take to the streets to vent their angst as such issues could have been settled with relative ease in case the government stepped in to bring the two remaining land donors for an explicit explanation over their decisions to retract from the earlier pledge of setting up the healthcare facility. In view of the government managing to convince those who have been fiercely opposing establishment of the National Sports University at Haraothen and the project site recently witnessing a violent clash, settling differences over land ownership or donation for the district hospital might be a comfortable task for the state authorities. Instead of kicking off an avoidable rage through impromptu relocation of the hospital, the government could have demonstrated that when it comes to development and welfare of the state masses then political objectives will not be a priority. Logistically too, Sagolmang seems to be a suitable location for the hospital as it would not only cater to healthcare needs of people settling in the eastern fringes of Imphal East district but also from the nearby hill areas like Saikul sub-division and even Ukhrul district.
The new hospital site also falls under the same district but Kyamgei and surrounding areas are comparatively close to the capital city where healthcare services could be conveniently accessed. Though it is understandable that politics is centred on criticism, rhetoric and one-upmanship between the ruling and the opposition, public leaders need to realise that any bid, overtly or covertly, to deny the people what has been promised to them will inevitably compel the dejected section of people to feel marginalised and betrayed for electing an opposition bench warmer. It is also obvious that politicisation of developmental issues or sensitive matters will only aggravate the situation and widen the gap of distrust among the people and the government, which is so glaringly evident in the present case as Khundrakpam-based civil society organisations have already announced a slew of agitations, including shut-down of government institutions existing in the assembly segment if the government does not maintain status quo. Though it would be wishful thinking that the political leaders would abandon their personal and organisational differences to work collectively for bringing solution to outstanding issues, the need of the hour is to acknowledge that people of development-starved Manipur expect the government to work with commitment and sincerity so to bring overall prosperity to the state. As the new government has been assuring to bring true equality in the society, uniform development and build trust, it should not bother much with the opposition’s tactics but to continue focusing towards delivering what has been promised to the people by taking advantage of the assurance of the Union government that funding development projects will not be a problem.