Fund crunch writ large as Sangai Festival prep gathers pace

STAFF REPORTER
IMPHAL, 17th Nov: As the state is gearing up for the Manipur Sangai Festival, which will be held from November 21 to 30, hasty preparations coupled with constructed budget is likely to play the spoilsport and consequently lessen festive mood of visitors this year.
Though some new additions were made for this year’s edition and new guests including Princess of Thailand and US ambassador to India would be attending the festival, significant reduction in the festival budget, as reported earlier, has the undesired potential to take the sheen out of the festival.
The Sangai Heritage Park inside the sprawling main venue of the festival at Hapta Kangjeibung, which remained as an integral part of the tourism promotional event since 2015 and is adorned with 15 traditional huts, will see addition of traditional hut of Thangal community and food courts for all communities of the state. However, the stalls seem comparatively tiny considering the crowds they are expected to draw.
The government used to engage three caretakers in 2015 to look after the heritage park. However, the caretaker ceased working for long following irregular payment of remuneration from around mid-2016. As a result, the heritage park area remained covered under thick bushes, clearance of which began only from November 3. Though initial preparations for the park and food courts have almost been completed, the lighting system and its designing would not be able to give the much needed sparkling effect to the park and the main venue as well. The venue will also house another 300 stalls and constructions of the stalls are underway on a war footing.
On the other hand, preparation at the Manipur Trade and Expo Centre at Lamboi Khongnangkhong is in pitiable condition. Since the venue was occupied for the Manipur International Textiles Expo (MANITEX) till November 15, readiness of the same venue to host various events of the Sangai Festival remains under cloud.
The venue, which will have a total of 650 stalls, has reserved 160 stalls inside the centre’s building for foreign and national participants while the local participants will be adjusted in the 490 stalls including 80 food stalls to be constructed inside the campus. The venue will also witness a new addition in the form of a small recreation park for children. Other than that, there is nothing much new in the venue. On the other hand, preparations in the public areas including major roads in and around Imphal city also seem to be lacking refinement this year. Repainting of roads and venues could be seen at a slow pace. Though decorative lighting systems are being put in place at important public areas, nothing special could be seen as the workers seem to be installing the lighting system without any designing set up.
The beautification endeavour would be better if the event organisers hire professional lighting designer to add a festive mood and serenity while providing a sense of belongingness among the visitors.
Mention may be made that the organisers had dropped Loktak Light Show, which was successful in drawing crowds in Loktak Lake. Significant reduction in the festival budget could be the reason behind the cancellation of the laser light show at Loktak Lake.


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