De­vel­op­ment on the Down­hill

Hill ar­eas reel un­der poor in­fra­struc­ture while 80% of govt funds are re­served for the val­ley

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Bikash.Singh@ times­group.com

DIF­FER­ENT STORY

Im­phal/ Ta­men­long: Bad roads in the hill ar­eas cou­pled with val­ley-cen­tric de­vel­op­ment schemes and in­fra­struc­ture pro­grammes have led to a rift in Ma­nipur. Ma­nipur, which has been ruled by the Congress for the last 15 years, is of­ten ac­cused of ex­clud­ing the hills from the de­vel­op­ment agenda. Peo­ple from the hill ar­eas claim that de­spite hill dis­tricts of Ma­nipur com­pris­ing 89% of the geo­graph­i­cal area, there were only 20 MLAs from these ar­eas in the Ma­nipur As­sem­bly. The val­ley, which com­prises just 11% area, had 40 seats and around 80% of the funds meant for the de­vel­op­ment in the state were con­sumed by the val­ley.

The con­di­tion in hills wors­ened fol­low­ingde­mon­eti­sa­tion of .₹ 1,000 and .₹ 500 notes and eco­nomic block­ade by the United Naga Coun­cil (UNC) on two high­ways since Novem­ber 1 last year. The con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sion of the Sixth Sched­ule is not im­ple­mented in the hills of Ma­nipur while most of the North-eastern states have it.

A full bench of the High Court of Ma­nipur has di­rected the sec­re­tary, Min­istry of De­fence and Min­istry of Road Trans­port and High­way, to carry out the high court or­der re­gard­ing re­pair­ing of pot holes along the Na­tional High­way-37 (Im­phal-Jiribam road) with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

Adim Pamei, the BJP can­di­date who is con­test­ing against deputy chief min­is­ter Gaikhangam­fromNung­baassem­bly­cons- tituency in Ta­men­long dis­trict told ET, “We hardly have roads in hill ar­eas. At­ten­dance of teach­ers in gov­ern­ment-run schools is very poor. Hill ar­eas have faced ap­a­thy of the Congress gov­ern­ment and there is hardly any de­vel­op­ment.” Gaikhangam, who be­longs to a Naga tribe and comes from hill area, how­ever, ad­mit­ted that there was dis­crim­i­na­tion against the hills but that is a thing of the past. “We took up in­clu­sive in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment in the hills. Dif­fer­ent ar­eas in hills have got sub-di­vi­sional of­fi­cer, block de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer, mini-sec­re­tar­iat with ac­com­mo­da­tion to gov­ern­ment staffs. There is a bal­ance be­tween de­vel­op­ment be­tween the hills and the val­ley,” he said. He said that cre­ation of seven new dis­tricts which UNC is op­pos­ing by re­sort­ing to block­ade is done for ad­min­is­tra­tive con­ve­nience and meant to take ad­min­is­tra­tion at the doorstep of the peo­ple, es­pe­cially in the hills.

“For decades, hills have faced ne­glect in the hands of the Ibobi gov­ern­ment and this ne­gates his claim of in­clu­sive de­vel­op­ment,” said S Mi­lan, gen­eral sec­re­tary of UNC. Nine trib­als died while protest­ing against three anti-mi­grant bills passed in the Ma­nipur As­sem­bly on Au­gust 31 last year.

Union Min­is­ter of State for Home Af­fairs Kiren Ri­jiju dur­ing an elec­tion cam­paign rally in Ma­nipur on Mon­day. PTI

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