Perforated roads and smart city bid

REGARDLESS of the appreciable thrust being given to improve condition of the national highways and proper maintenance of inter-district routes, state authorities remaining seemingly unmindful of the importance for repairing the pothole dotted roads in and around Imphal is akin to projecting the capital city in poor light and technically surrendering from the race to secure a berth for Imphal among the state capitals for the remaining few slots of the centrally-funded smart city project. Contrary to rapid increase in vehicular traffic it is an undeniable fact that there has been no significant improvement in condition of some roads in both Imphal East and West districts. For years, execution of the Imphal sewerage project considerably hindered road development works in the city and the same project yet to wind up till now has been compounding the problem of traffic congestion which is mainly caused due to the vehicles left with no option other than slowing down to negotiate around the potholes. Though majority of the roads which were dug up in connection with the sewerage project had been repaired and black-topped there are still many stretches of the same project affected routes where the roads have sunk in thereby suggesting that work quality has been compromised. While sunken roads are common sights in various localities which were covered by the said project, the problem is most vivid along Thangmeiband Watham Leirak to Lamphel stretch and RIMS road, to name a few. These roads need to be maintained in a presentable mode for the simple reason that many offices and major healthcare centres are located in Lamphel area. Of course, traffic chaos causing serious inconveniences to the citizens is also due to the haphazard parking system but the problem caused to the public due to the poorly maintained city roads cannot be simply wished away.

Undeniably, many developmental initiatives are being taken up by the new government. However, it is also an equally undeniable and obvious fact that passing through the capital city has been increasingly problematic on account of insurmountable traffic volume and almost all the roads perforated. While around three decades back when the number of vehicles was comparatively few, present day Imphal streets are choc-a-bloc with vehicles of different shapes and sizes, indicating a big boom in the vehicle population and consequently complicating the traffic crisis. Being part of a bigger world in which mechanical explosion has been taking place at a more rapid pace, the imperative need, obviously, is to improve and upgrade the roads to meet the traffic challenges. In sharp contrast to Imphal literally running out of space for vehicles, the overall condition of the roads are still very deplorable as is evident from some major city roads resembling ponds during the rainy season and dust particles flying all over when dry season sets. Under such state of affairs, it will neither be feasible to try to attract tourists nor would it be possible to achieve the goal of overall development for the simple reason that transport and communications are also indices of a progressive society. The incumbent government might be having some big plans to put Manipur on the map of development, but if such plans, projects and schemes are announced only to keep the people in cheerful mood, questions might be raised on integrity and commitment of those at the helm of affairs.

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