Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren on December 30 said that a total of 497 cases were registered and 703 people, inlcuding five village heads, were arrested in connection with poppy cultivation across the state in 2022.
“We will not compromise in cases relating to drugs and corruption. Legal action will be taken against all poppy farmers and those encouraging poppy cultivation in the state,” Biren told mediapersons in Imphal and called upon poppy growers and their supporters to surrender to avoid police cases.
“Those who come out voluntarily are welcome and will be excused and exempted from police cases but legal action will be initiated against those who farm poppy or encourage and support the plantation,” the CM said.
The Chief Minister said the area of poppy cultivation had been reduced to almost 90 per cent at present. The government identified a total of 6,742 acres under poppy cultivation across the state during the cropping season of 2021. And 497 cases were registered, 703 arrested, including five village chiefs, in connection with poppy cultivation, reports added.
Biren also said that security forces have confiscated a large number of illicit drugs worth Rs 1,280 crore (international market) in 2022, which includes 560 kg of opium and heroin and 500 kg of brown sugar.
Following the approval of setting up state police outposts at the border areas by the Union government, the state government has started setting up 34 police outposts at border areas and six along the national highways to ensure the control of drugs and arms trafficking besides preventing the influx of illegal immigrants. All the 40 police outposts will be functioning by February 2023, Biren assured.
With the involvement of the general public at community level, the War on Drugs has become a ‘people’s movement’ and its going successfully, he said, adding that the government is also providing alternative livelihood to poppy growers, reports added.
SoO Signed With ZUF
The Government of India (GOI) and the Government of Manipur (GOM) on December 27 entered into a ‘Cessation of Operation’ (COO) agreement with the Zeliangrong United Front (ZUF), an insurgent group of Zeliangrong commuinty of Manipur that had been active for more than a decade.
The COO agreement was signed by officials of the Union Home Ministry, the Government of Manipur and representatives of ZUF in the presence of Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren in New Delhi, a release of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) stated.
Manipur Chief Minister Biren left Imphal on December 27 by Indigo flight for New Delhi in time for the signing ceremony which has been in the works for quite some time. The senior officers of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and State Chief Secretary Rajesh Kumar on behalf of the Government of Manipur and the representatives of ZUF signed the Cessation of Operation (COO) agreement in the august presence of Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren. The agreement has been signed fulfilling the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “Insurgency Free and Prospersous North East” and under the guidance of Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah, the release said.
The ZUF representatives agreed to abjure violence and join the peaceful democratic process as established by law of the land. The agreement provides for rehabilitation and resettlement of the armed cadres. A Joint Monitoring Group will be constituted to oversee enforcement of the agreed ground rules, the MHA release mentioned.
“BJP Concerned Only In Establishing Hindu Rashtra”
Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) on December 26 refuted allegations made by Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren, and claimed that “the BJP government is good for nothing. They are only concerned in breaking up India and establishing a Hindu Rashtra or Hindutva.”
Referring to a news report published on December 24, MPCC vice president Hareshwar Goswami told the media in a press conference at Congress Bhawan that Nongthombam Biren raising allegations that Jawaharlal Nehru divided Manipur to become Prime Minister of India was highly unfortunate. The allegations raised upon Jawaharlal Nehru were unfounded and baseless, Hareshwar said.
“It seems Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren is finding it difficult to dig out any mistakes committed during the Congress regime in Manipur. This has resulted in pointing fingers at the national leaders of the party. Jawaharlal Nehru became the Prime Minister on August 15, 1947 while Manipur merged into the Indian union on September 15, 1949,” Hareshwar said.
No remarkable work is seen so far during the BJP government at border areas even after making various promises of bringing change in the interior parts of the state. “Where is the Air Dispensary Helicopter service for remote areas for which a sum of Rs 2.5 crore was sanctioned in 2017?” he questioned.
About Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Congress Vice President Hareshwar said that BJP’s only concern is to disintegrate India and establish a Hindu Rashtra or Hindutva, reports added.
Lamyanba NK Sanajaoba Remembered
NK Sanajaoba Memorial Trust observed the 86th birth anniversary of Lamyanba NK Sanajaoba at Lamyanba Shanglen, Palace Compound in Imphal on December 30.
The observance commenced with offering of floral tributes to the portrait of NK Sanajaoba. The Observance was attended by RK Ranendrajit, Editor of The Freedom and Arambam Lokendra, President of NK Sanajaoba Memorial Trust president Arambam Lokendro as Chief Guest and President respectively.
The Editor of Imphal Times, Rinku Khumukcham spoke on the topic of ‘The Pioneer of Investigative Journalism in Manipur’ as resource person.
Speaking on the occasion, Trust Vice President Sh Shamu informed that the death anniversary of NK Sanajaoba is observed on November 11 while his birth anniversary is also observed on December 30 as decided by the Trust.
The present journalists need to learn to be as courageous as Sanajaoba and refrain from compromising the truth, he asserted.
The main objective of the observance is to help the people recall the contributions of Sanajaoba in investigative journalism, youth movement and his role as an editor Lamyanba, the monthly journal of Pan Manipuri Youth League (PANMYL), the Secretary of the Trust L Jadumani said in his key note address.
‘Manipur Prepared For Any Covid Eventuality’
Manipur has sufficient medical essentials and is well prepared to tackle any Covid outbreak, state Health director Dr Sasheekumar Mangang said on December 27. The public need not panic, he said.
“BF.7, the new variant that is widely spreading in several foreign countries is not new to India as it has been already detected in June in Gujarat and similar variant BF.1 in Odisha. However it is not detected in Manipur so far,” Dr Sasheekumar said.
Speaking to the media in his office chamber at State Health Directorate in Imphal West, Sasheekumar informed that a statewide mock drill was conducted on December 27 as a preparation to meet any eventualities of any possible Covid outbreak, as per the directive of the Union Health Ministry, reports said.
Highlighting the present scenario of the medical essentials of the state, he said the state has enough oxygen supply and cylinders, though a few of the PSA plants faced some small malfunction. The state has dedicated 148 ICU beds and above 500 beds with oxygen supply for Covid, he said it is believed that there will be no rush for Covid beds.
Only 20 per cent of the Covid positive patients were hospitalised in the past, however the rate of hospitalisation cases among Covid patient has declined, he said, adding that the state government can expand the numbers of general beds and ICU and activate the Covid Hospital at Kiyamgei which is currently utilised as a Maternity and Child Hospital, in case of any emergency.
The numbers of government run ambulances during the first wave was only 20 and now it has increased to 92, he said. The ambulances have been equitably distributed in all the 16 districts. Moreover there are various privately owned ambulances, so ambulance service will not be an issue, he added.
Concerning the vaccine hesitancy among the public where only 62.8 per cent of the eligible population received the first dose, 53 per cent the second dose and 30 per cent received the booster dose, he said that the state government is set to intensify the vaccination drive. Adequate numbers of vaccines have been requested for supply from the Central government, he said, admitting that as of now the state has no stock of Covishield but has Covaxin stock, reports added.
School Transporters to Comply With Regulations
The Manipur State Directorate of Transport on December 26 notified school transport operators in the state to comply with regulations set by the State Transport department.
A notification issued by the director of the Transport Department Nivedita Lairenlakpam instructed all the transport operators of the state engaged in the transportation of school students, to comply with the conditions and regulations set by the state transport department. Failure to comply will result in taking up necessary actions as per the Motor Vehicle Act and Rules, it stated.
Almost all the vehicles used for the transportation of school students, particularly the buses, vans and three-wheeler vehicles have not complied with the standard conditions and safety norms as prescribed by the transport department, it said.
The notification mentioned that carrying an excess number of school children compromising their safety and comfort is a serious offense. The vehicles used for school transportation should be regularly checked for their fitness and related documents like permits, Pollution Under Control Certificates (PUCC), commercial registrations etc, it added.
Doctors Calls off OPD Shutdown Strike
A joint meeting chaired by Health Minister Sapam Ranjan with Additional Chief Secretary, Health & Family Welfare Services, Director of Health Services and others with President, General Secretary and Working Committee Members of All Manipur Health Services Doctors’ Association (AMHSDA) was held on December 27 at 4 pm after an invitation by the State Government at the ministerial level to discuss the matter, said AMHSDA.
The authorities concerned assured to table the demands of AMHSDA in the next cabinet meeting and fulfil their demands. As per the assurance given by the government, AMHSDA had called off their shutdown from 27 December until further notification.
The organisation had called for two days OPD closure over various demands which included scale promotion, extension of superannuation up to 65 years of age and NPA fixation with effect from January 1, 2016, as per the 7th CPC, and the amendment to the outdated Manipur Health Services Rules 1982. AMHSDA also added that demands made by them are their fundamental rights.
The organisation further said that they have reduced the charter of demands to only four as per the government’s request. However, the government has been ignoring their demands for the last two years.
Jeetendra Ningombam is COCOMI Coordinator
Jeetendra Ningombam took charge as the new Coordinator of Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) on December 26 and assured that during his tenure, he will try to complete the pending work on National Register of Indian Citizen (NRC) update and to mount pressure to open a Manipur State Population Commission (MSPC). He said this while speaking during handing over the charge of new coordinator of COCOMI held at Ecotourism Centre and a Craft Museum Shilheipung, Leimakhong Mapal, Lamlai sub-division in Imphal East.
Speaking on the occasion, he said during his tenure as Coordinator of the apex body, he will try to strengthen the relationship among the ethnic communities of the state. He said no outside force can interfere in state issues or in any conflict as the matter will be solved within the state.
Jeetendra said COCOMI will not interfere with any community while they are demanding for their own rights however will not tolerate if the demand may affect the territorial integrity or boundary of Manipur. If necessary COCOMI will face the issue under Indian Constitution in order to protect the territorial integrity and boundary of Manipur.
Earlier COCOMI and UNC had appealed for setting up of a Manipur State Population Commission and called for deporting illegal migrants and checking mushrooming of unrecognized villages. The two groups also demanded a resolution by the Manipur State Legislative Assembly and sent a proposal to the Government of India for taking further steps to check demographic imbalance. They further demanded that the NRC be updated with a fixed cut-off base year to identify illegal immigrants in Manipur.
Railway Project Work Completes 91.78PC
Indian Railways has said that 91.78 per cent of the Jiribam-Imphal rail project work is completed. It says that construction of 48 of the 52 tunnels and six of the 11 stations have been completed. Of the 11 major bridges, substructures of seven and superstructures of five have been completed while 101 of the 129 minor bridges are also ready, the Railways mentioned in its report on the progress of the railway project.
The report also mentioned that the work of the world’s tallest railway bridge is going on in full swing; the bridge’s height will be a towering 141 metres, making it the tallest pier rail bridge in the world.
The 111 km Jiribam to Imphal railway project is to connect the remote North-Eastern state with the rest of India by rail. The railway will reduce the travel time between Assam and Manipur to two-and-half hours from the current 12 hours’ drive, the report added.
The Jiribam-Imphal Railway line will be the harbinger of prosperity in Manipur, with a boost to tourism and socio-economic development in the region, the Railway Ministry said in a Twitter post.
The railway section from Jiribam to Khongsang has been commissioned. The project, with an estimated cost of Rs 12,264.15 crore, is set to be completed by December 2023.
MPCC Condemns Extension of Chief Secretary’s Term
The Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) has condemned the state government for extension of service period of State Chief Secretary Rajesh Kumar by yet another six months, saying it would demoralise the deserving.
Addressing the media in Imphal on December 30, MPCC spokesperson Bhupenda Ningombam said that over extending of service period of the Chief Secretary by another six months is gross violation of office memorandum issued by the Ministry of personnel, public, grievances and pensions, department of personnel and training, Government of India, reports said.
Bhupenda said the State Government had resolved in the cabinet meeting on April 3, 2017 not to allow continuity of any retired government officials’ services. Hence, the MPCC demands the state government to reconsider the move of the state as it will demoralise many competent government officials. At present Manipur has two Additional Chief Secretaries who joined in the same year as Rajesh Kumar of 1988, (IAS) cadre of Manipur, he added.
“Is there no other competent officer for the post of chief secretary?” Bhupenda asked and added that the re-extension of Rajesh Kumar’s term has demoralized the aspiring candidates who deserve to hold the post. Manipur has competent and deserving officials but extending the period of present Chief Secretary again and again is unfortunate, he said.
Bhupenda mentioned that there are IAS officers such as Additional Chief Secretary MH Khan, P Vaiphei, NEC Secretary K Moses Chalai etc who can be the Chief Secretary of Manipur. They are all 1988 batch. Letkhogin Haokip is also 1988 batch. There are many competent IAS officers who can succeed Rajesh Kumar, the Congress leader said.
The state government should reconsider and revoke this order as it will demotivate many officials. Moreover, this kind of decision directly or indirectly promotes corruption in the state, he said and added that over extension of service period after retirement of the chief secretary is just like providing financial and signatory authority to withdraw the funds of the state, reports added.
“While extension of tenure of the highest post of the State Government will misgovern the administrative system, the state will become the corruption capital of India if such kind of gross violation of service rules continues for a longer period”, Bhupenda said.
It may be mentioned that Rajesh Kumar, was appointed as the Chief Secretary of Manipur succeeding J Suresh Babu on July 31, 2020, and his retirement was due on June 30, 2022. But as per the order issued by the Governor of Manipur, his service as the Chief Secretary was extended for another six months. With a recent order of another six months’ extension, Rajesh Kumar will hold the post of Chief Secretary of Manipur till June 31, 2023.
Womenfolk Protest Gun Culture In Imphal West
A group of local women in Imphal staged a sit-in protest condemning the firing incident that place at early December 27 following the firing of one round of gunshot by miscreants at a house in Lamboi Khongnangkhong under the jurisdiction of Lamphel Police Station, Imphal West at around 1.10 am on December 27. The house belongs to one 49-year-old Wangkhem Lokeshor, son of Wangkhem Khomei.
Taking part in the protest, Apunba Nupi Lup Lamboi Khongnangkhong President Paonam Bino strongly condemned the firing incident. No casualties were reported in the firing by the armed miscreants that hit the kitchen of Lokeshor’s residence. W Lokeshor is the Finance Secretary of United Friends Library and Club, Lamboi Khongnangkhong, reports said.