Barely two to three days after the drive conducted by the Manipur Police to clear Paona and Thangal bazaars stretches to avoid illegal parking on the roadside for easy movement of commuters and pedestrians, illegal parking along the stretch has increased almost double.
The Manipur government’s order to ban parking for shop owners and residents along both the stretches had been exclusively published by the Imphal Free Press. However, the same evening, Chief Minister Biren uploaded a video on his Facebook showing illegal parking along the stretches. Then, the next day Manipur police conducted a drive along the Thangal Bazaar stretch and instructed the shop owners and residents along the stretch to park their vehicles at the public parking facility allotted on top of Naga Nullah.
The state government on April 5 issued an order that residents and shop owners for both the stretches of Paona and Thangal bazaars should park their vehicles at western side of Johnstone Higher Secondary School and on public parking space of Naga Nullah respectively.
However, the government order remained effective for hardly two-three days and the vehicles were parked as usual, like it was before the issue of the order. Police patrol vehicles were also deployed along the stretches of Paona and Thangal bazaars, but to no effect.
Chief Minister Biren Singh had expressed to the media on various occasions that to ease the situation for pedestrians and commuters, shop owners and residents along the stretch of Paona and Thangal bazaars should park their vehicles on the allotted parking spaces.
In the last few days, a large number of vehicles were seen parked the whole day along the Thangal bazaar stretch while the police patrol vehicles were also seen parked near those vehicles.
Meanwhile, caretaker mayor of Imphal Municipal Corporation had also expressed that the vehicles parked illegally along Paona and Thangal bazaar would be seized. He had also expressed that recovery vans might be used if necessary.
One of the shopkeepers of Thangal Bazar told the Imphal Free Press during an interaction that “several orders had been issued but none of them lasted for a week”.
“We follow the order for the time being at the initial days of issue of order but the police personnel eventually stop continuing the drive automatically,” the shopkeeper said.
A senior resident of Sagolband Salam Leikai told Imphal Free Press that during the initial days following the issue of government order, police personnel were seen taking stringent action to avoid parking along the stretches of Paona and Thangal Bazaar.
“Being a senior citizen and a pedestrian, people were happy that the present government is concerned about pedestrians. However, after 3-4 days the same parking situation is back, in an unorganised manner”, said the senior citizen.
If the government’s order to ban parking of vehicles for shop owners and residents is not effective, then why did the government issue such orders, he questioned.
“The order seems to be issued to increase the illegal parking along the stretches and make it convenient only for the shop owners and residents”, said the senior citizen.
After the issue of the government's order, shop owners along the Paona Bazaar stretch had demonstrated a shop-shutdown protest for one and half days. The protest was called off after the shop owners and officials of the state government held a meeting.
The shop owners of Paona Bazaar also made an ultimatum to the government to issue a government order regarding their demands to allow the customers to park their vehicles for some minutes so that they could buy items and to make one way entry along the Paona Bazaar stretch from the Southern side.
The shop owners of Paona Bazaar also warned the state government that they will take to agitation if their demands were not fulfilled by April 14.