Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

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Manipur's world famous Ras Lila showcasing the state during the recent Sangai Tourism Festival

Modi Likens Manipur to an Elegant Garland and Mini India; Govt Accused of Withholding ADC Polls; Foreign Minister Visits State; Cong Charges PMSGY Fund Misappropriation

Manipur is an Elegant Garland: Modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the closing function of the Manipur Sangai Festival 2022 on November 30 via a video message at the Bheigyachandra Open Air Theatre describes Manipur is like an elegant garland where one can witness a mini India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that labelled as the grandest festival in the state, the Manipur Sangai Festival helps in promoting Manipur as a world-class tourism destination.

“Manipur Sangai Festival highlights the spirit and passion of the people of Manipur”, the Prime Minister said before applauding the efforts and the comprehensive vision of the state government and Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren for organising this festival.

The Prime Minister also stressed on Manipur’s abundant natural beauty, cultural richness and diversity, and said that everyone wants to visit the state at least once and drew an analogy to a beautiful garland that is made up of different gems. “Manipur is like an elegant garland where one can witness a mini India in the state,” Modi said.

Chief Guest of the closing event, Union Minister for Law and Justice, Kiren Rijiju said “We always feel proud of our culture and identity. The vibrancy of Manipur, its vibrant culture as well as natural beauty of Manipur has been attractive all over.”

“Manipur is a unique state which really shines in all spheres of life,” he said, before lauding the sporting potential of the state’s sportspersons. The Manipur sportsperson have been winning medals and displaying their skills and talents across the globe, he said.

Besides sports, the culture especially the art form of Manipuri dances and beautiful folk dances in the hills of Manipur are mesmerizing, he said further stressing that Manipur is a unique state which has unlimited potential to grow.

Govt Accused of Withholding ADC polls

The Ex-ADC Members’ Forum, Manipur (EAMFM) has accused the “Manipur Government of trying to suppress the political rights of the tribal people by withholding elections to the Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) in one pretext or the other”.

The EAMFM said in a statement issued on December 1 that the forum has been “perturbed by the indifferent attitude of the state government towards the ADCs in Manipur”.

“To be clear, the ADCs are grass-root level political institutions which cannot be suppressed and superseded by bureaucratic institution,” the statement said.

The EAMFM reminded the state government that elections to the ADCs have been put on hold for two years now. “Non-holding of the democratic process (of election) is a clear deprivation of constitutional and democratic rights of the tribal people,” the statement added.

Further, the EAMFM said that while the tribal people are continuously demanding for empowerment of the ADCs, the state government has been trying its best to suppress the political rights of the tribal people by withholding the ADC elections on one pretext or the other.

“Suppression of democratic rights and superseding political institutions by a bureaucratic institution is something which is unheard of in the democratic history of the country,” the statement added.

The EAMFM said, “To make the matter worse, the state government has been trying to fill up the vacant posts under the ADCs in the absence of the elected ADC governments”.

Further, the statement said that suppression of a democratic process of people’s participation, whereby taking undue chance of this “intentional suppression by the state government” is an outright deprivation of the rights of tribal people.

The support extended to the government in this regard by some tribal organisations or individuals is something which they will surely regret for their actions against tribal rights and interests, the statement added.

Therefore, the EAMFM in the statement appealed to all tribal apex bodies, civil society organizations and student organizations to stand up for the rights of the tribal people by ensuring that the ADC elections are held at the earliest.

The forum also appealed to the tribal organisations “to speak up against the injustices done to the tribal political institutions (ADCs) and to be vigilant of the government’s ‘divide and rule’ policy in order to attain a secured political future for the tribal people of Manipur”.

Jaishankar Visits Manipur Tourist Sites

Union Minister for External Affairs Subramaniam Jaishankar along with his wife Japanese origin Kyoko Somekawa Jaishankar visited Manipur during Sangai Festival 2022. The Union Minister on November 27 visited Khwairamband Nupi Keithel, War Cemetery Peace Memorial at Kabo Leikai in Imphal, Indian National Army (INA) Museum at Moirang,.

While interacting with the media, Jaishankar said the place is actually something one has to come and see to fully experience it. “It is a great example of Nari Shakti powering economic growth by women,” said Jaishankar.

The External Affairs Minister also said the role of the Indian National Army is something that requires the fullest recognition, he said.

The Minister also visited Ithing village in Bishnupur district and discussed developmental issues with locals. He commended the INA Museum for displaying the heroic efforts of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

“Assured that we are working to improve connectivity within the Northeast and to the wider world; and expand its access to global markets and workplace,” Jaishankar tweeted. “Our upcoming Presidency of the G20 will showcase Northeast to the world, with attendant tourism benefits,” he added.

Manipur Tourism Congress Held

Manipur Tourism Congress organised by Manipur Government’s Department of Tourism to promote Manipur as a hotspot of tourism was held during the Sangai Festival 2022 on November 27.

The Manipur Government is developing tourism and related infrastructures to turn the state into a world class destination, Pradeep Kumar Jha, Commissioner of Tourism, Manipur said in the congress on November 27.

Addressing the second Manipur Tourism Congress in Imphal, Pradeep Kumar Jha said the 16 districts of Manipur are distinct and unique in their own way and hence, the Sangai Festival is being organised in different venues to raise awareness and understand the uniqueness.

The Commissioner of tourism also informed that a two-day consultation was organised for creating tourism policy. He said that while creating policy, it should cover all aspects from the private sector as well.

Director of Tourism, W Ibohal highlighted the historical connection of different remarkable places of Manipur and origin of hills and valleys of Manipur. He said there is no difference between a hill and a valley and that we are one. Therefore, this year, the theme of the Sangai Festival is ‘We are One’ and to make the people of the state realise this, the government is organising the festival in different parts of the state.

Speaking about the threats to Loktak Lake, he said it is due to human habitation. It was 286 square kilometres about three decades ago but is now only 168 square kilometres, the director of tourism said. “We need to preserve and protect the lake”, he added.

MPCC Hold Joint Inspection to Verify Misappropriation of PMGSY Fund

Alleging that huge scam has been carried out in road construction under PMGSY, the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) has decided to invite all concerned authorities for a joint inspection visit at Galkapkot to Gamhui Road in Churachandpur district, Noney to Nungnang and Tupul to Charoi Chagotlong.

Addressing the media at the Congress Bhawan on November 29, MPCC senior spokesperson Ningombam Bupenda Meitei said that under the leadership of MPCC president, the party has been consistently reaching out to the entire people of Manipur, particularly in hill districts of the state. And the main purpose of the visit is to ensure the rights of the hill districts and get adequate infrastructure, he said, adding that during such visits, the party noticed misappropriation of funds for road construction under PMGSY.

During the spot visit of the MPCC carried out after receiving complaint from Gangte Tribe Council, the party went to Galkapkot-Gamhui under Thanlon subdivision of Churachandpur District on October 31 in which a huge scam of PMGSY was unearthed with the local people of Galkapkot, the Congress leader said. Then, on November 22, the MPCC team went to check PMGSY roads of Noney to Nungang and Tupul to Charoi Chagotlong under Nungba TD Block of Noney District, wherein a huge scam of PMGSY was found again, he added.

Bupenda informed that on November 8, chief engineer/EO, RED/MSRRDA, Pantishing Thaimei issued a letter to the Joint Secretary (RD & PR), Government of Manipur, under the subject ‘Media report on inspection of Galkapkot – Gamhui road in Churachandpur District by MPCC’, to ensure for an enquiry/inspection of the road by a committee headed by Chief Engineer, RED/ MSRRDA. The letter also advised to submit the said report on or before 7th, December, 2022.

But November 26, local media reported that Chief Engineer Pantishing Thaimei, Additional Cchief Engineer Rajen and a representative of Contractors’ Association, gave statements which tantamount to misleading the expose on the PMGSY scam, he added.

While informing that construction of road from Noney to Nungnang road under PMGSY under Nungba TD Block is completed, he said construction of this road is completed in two different packages according to certified record. After the completion of the same road, another new package named MN07241 was sanctioned worth Rs 792.15 lakh for 17.5 km on September 4, 2018. Out of total money, Rs. 409.16 lakh was expended on August 3, 2019 by granting as a work under a different new package.

Bupenda further said that in the case of construction from Tupul to Charoi Chagotlong road, another two new packages were found without completion of the project. MPCC strongly condemns all such irregularities and to verify all ground reality which MPCC came across, the party has decided to conduct joint inspection.

He said that they will invite concerned Minister, Chief Secretary, Aadditional Chief Secretary, officials, engineers, contractors, hill leaders, civil societies, all stakeholders, media and the public for a joint inspection to all the sites which were visited by the MPCC team recently to expose PMGSY scam in the hill districts of Manipur. He said the inspection would be done before December 10, reports added.

BJP Rejects Congress Allegation on PMGSY Project

Outrightly rejecting the allegation leveled by the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) on ‘misappropriation of PMGSY funds’, the BJP Manipur Pradesh has lambasted the Congress party for spreading lies and defaming the various development projects taken up by the government in rural areas without collecting proper data of the projects.

Speaking to media persons in a press meet held at Thambal Shanglen on November 30, BJP Manipur Pradesh Vice President, Ch Chidananda said that Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren led BJP government has been on the spree of taking up various since the party formed the government in 2017. The BJP formed the government for the second time with majority of the people supporting the party after leaving behind the Congress party which ruled for 15 years in the state.

Chidananda said the BJP led government is concerned for the development of the state and welfare of the people and as such the party has no time for baseless claims made by the Congress party and to teach them what the facts are. The party must collect the proper data from the concerned departments and discuss with them thoroughly without half-baked knowledge, reports said.

Chidananda said that since formation of the government for the second time, Chief Minister Biren led BJP government has completed restoration work of 1000 kilometres long road in a short time under the RD & PR department, out of which 51 roads and 34 bridges have been completed. It is a huge achievement of the Government.

No Misuse of Funds Under PMGSY, Rural Engineering Dept Clarifies

Additional Chief Engineer of Rural Engineering Department (RED), Government of Manipur Kh Rajen on November 30 clarified that there was no misuse of funds meant for road construction work under PMGSY as the funds were sanctioned in two different stages.

Addressing the media at the conference hall of RED located at North AOC, Imphal, Rajen said he, along with a team of administrative officials of the department, including representatives of concerned contractors led by Chief Eengineer, RED, inspected the road along Tupul to Charoi Chagotlong and Noney to Nungnang of Tamenglong district and found that the construction work was continuing, reports said.

He said that under PMGSY road construction, the Central government sanctions the funds in two different stages which are stage I and stage II. In stage I, the Central government, under package 7123 and 7124, sanctioned an amount for widening of roads, including cutting of hill slopes and others. Whereas, in stage II, the Central government sanctions the amount under package 7241 for construction of roads, including black topping.

Assam Rifles Foils Cross Border Narcotics Smuggling

Khuga Battalion of Assam Rifles under the agies of HQ IGAR (South) foiled cross border smuggling of narcotics in border village of Songdoi, Churachandpur district on November 30, reports said.

Based on specific information regarding transshipment of contraband items across Indo-Myanmar border, troops of Assam Rifles launched an operation near BP-36 and apprehended a drug peddler coming from across the border. On thorough search of the individual, 120 grams of Heroin No 4 in 10 soap cases were recovered. The seized narcotics were assessed to be worth Rs 48 Lakh. The recovered items along with the drug peddler were handed over to Singhat Police for further investigation, reports added.

Doctors Continue Hunger Strike Across All Districts in Manipur

Doctors in Manipur under the All Manipur Health Service Doctors Association on November 30 organised a relay hunger strike across all districts in the state. The AMHSDA resolved to hold a relay hunger strike starting November 28 to December 2, 2022 across all districts of the state.

The relay hunger strike is the result of the failure of the state government in taking interest in the demands of the doctors of Manipur for the last two years, Dr Lolee added.

The doctors raised eight-point demand. The state government has accepted four, but has not worked out the other four points till now, they said. They are timebound promotion; enhancement of Superannuation age to 65 as in the case of JNIMS doctor; NPA Fixation with effect from January 1, 2016 as per the 7th Pay Commission and the implementation of proposed MHS Rule 2022 and Amendment.

General Secretary of AMHSDA, Dr Lolee P Mao said the strike is being held following the apathy of the Manipur government. Regular and timebound promotion and pension benefit are important to them which also is their right as frontline workers, he said.

The relay hunger strike in Thoubal, Churachandpur, Senapati, Kangpokpi, Ukhrul and others districts was held peacefully with the doctors taking turns to do their normal duty, Dr Lolee P Mao said.

Further, General Secretary of AMHSDA, Dr Lolee P Mao said that if Manipur Government does not take heed to their demand, they will go ahead with mass casual leave and if the government still fails to respond, they will effect a mass resignation, reports added.

Manipur to Start House-To-House Testing for HIV/AIDS

The Manipur government on the occasion of Worlds AIDS Day 2022 December 1 announced house-to-house HIV and AIDS testing in the state under the Chief Minister’s Health for All programme.

In Manipur, the Manipur State AIDS Control Society (MACS) organised the event at 1st Battalion Manipur Rifles Ground in Imphal, Manipur with the aim to raise awareness about AIDS and remember those who lost their lives to the disease. The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is “Equalize,” which aims to empower all to address the urgent need for the protection of human rights through HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support.

Speaking at the event, Governor La Ganesan said ‘World AIDS day’ is an important event particularly in Manipur, where several people experienced the impact of HIV in the last two decades. “I do hope that the number of infected persons might have decreased significantly due to the relentless efforts made by selfless NGOs with the help of the state government,” Ganesan said.

The governor also said Manipur was the first and only state in India to have a State AIDS Policy as early as 1996. Now, it is imperative to make modifications and improvements in the policy statement in tune with the changing scenario, he said.

Meanwhile, expressing serious concern, Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren said, “It is not a celebration programme; it is an issue of generations.”

Chief Minister Biren said that it is unfortunate that the state government started a door-to-door delivery system of ART, but some people objected due to fear of stigma from society. The state government included HIV/AIDS free testing and treatment among 10 treatments free of cost at home. According to the World Aids Day report, 28,000 are taking ART in the state.

There is a report of using drugs by 12 years old youth in the state, Biren said, adding that some communities don’t want to mention the community’s name while continuing to be a drug smuggler or business as a profession. Some set up drug factories, some not stopping poppy plantations and most importantly, some persons who are in Suspension of Operations (SOO) are doing drug business in the state, he said.

CM Inaugurates Training Programme of Seven Local Languages

Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren on December 2 inaugurated the Two-Month Local Language Training Programme of Seven Languages organised by the Department of Language Planning and Implementation at MSFDS in at Palace Compound in Imphal East.

Stressing the need of knowing multiple local dialects and languages by a government employee, Manipur Chief Minister Biren announced that priority will be given to the candidates knowing multiple local dialects during job recruitment.

Pointing out that language barrier divides people, even among the MLAs of the state, Biren stressed the need to learn different local dialects in order to maintain unity and oneness among the different ethnic groups of Manipur confining to the true image of a “Mini India” as described by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. After all, one’s identity will not be compromised in learning languages, he added.

Meanwhile Education Minister Thounaojam Basantakumar said that such training will help in tightening the bonds of the different communities of the state by ways of mending the communication gap.

As many as 280 individuals will be participating in the pilot project training programme for seven local languages which includes Meitei, Tangkhul, Poumai, Rongmei, Anal, Paite and Thadou.  As per officials, around 291 individuals who applied for the training programme are kept in the waiting list, reports added.

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