One very serious issue facing the state is the continuation of the erection of border fencing between BP No 80 and 81 which had been brought deep within the Indian side. When the matter was raised in August last year it was clarified that the work will stop till an understanding is reached.
Earlier, clarification was also made that it is not border fencing but security fencing which was unacceptable as once the fencing is erected, the land of India (Manipur) on the other side will be encroached by Myanmarese, and with no gates our citizens have no wherewithal to defend it.
One needs to understand the various agreements signed regarding the boundary between Manipur, British India and Burma and the over reliance on an alleged statement of a former CM of Manipur made in 1968 accepting the border agreement between India and Burma of 1967 cannot be taken as acceptance by Manipur as there are no written records about this.
The demarcation should have been carried out with the involvement of the local populace and not done in secrecy as was done many times in the past.
It is the responsibility of the Union Government to protect all areas of the country. Any transfer of land to another country has to be carried out under international law and ratified by Parliament.
Should not the failure to protect the land and territory of Manipur be regarded as seditious? Isn't this act more serious than some individuals criticising the government? Should not the Union Government in MHA and the BRTF, the executing agency, be hauled up before the law court for sedition? A food for thought!
During the height of insurgency, due to serious interference in the award of contracts, the system of open tender was put to hold and a three-man committee was formed to award works of bigger size to well-known and competent contractors. But, despite the fact that the situation had normalised, the arbitrary system still continues but with a subtle change that the work is awarded to a not very well-known contractor or awarded to a competent contractor with an unwritten understanding that the work will be executed by handpicked sub-contractors.
In most of the work orders, a condition stipulates that the work will not be sub-contracted but most of the works were carried out by sub-contractors who neither have sufficient resources nor competencies; their only qualification being proximity to the ruling class. This led to poor quality of work and with four or five sub-contractors, even the specifications were altered at will by the sub-contractors.
The system of Road Muharrir supervising works has long been discontinued. In fact now even the engineers have little say in the quality as any objection can lead to their transfer. The CPWD Manual needs to be followed scrupulously to improve the quality.
Works under PMGSY are to be maintained by the contractors for five years as this was incorporated in the estimates, but no road under PMGSY in Manipur was maintained and in a year or two, the asphalt surface started breaking up and by the fifth year it does not look like a road at all.
As per the guidelines, after five years the maintenance work is to be taken over by the state government but will the Rural Roads do it or will it be transferred to PWD?
It may be mentioned that none will want to maintain poorly constructed roads executed by other departments, especially with the meagre funds allotted in the budget for road maintenance under PWD.
There was a news report that one DDO of DIPR was put under enquiry after “a group of concerned citizens” made a complaint against him to the chief minister.
No action is deemed necessary as allegations made anonymously or pseudonymously need not be taken cognizance. “A group of concerned citizens” can only be classified as anonymous or pseudonymous.
DOPT’s OM No. 321/4.910-AVD.III dated 29.09.1992 clearly stipulates that no action is required to be taken on anonymous/pseudonymous complaints in general, provided there is an option to inquire into such allegations which contained verifiable facts. Later, after a series of pronouncements by the law courts, DOPT’s OM No. 104/76/2011-AVD.I dated 18.10.2013 provides that no action is required to be taken on anonymous complaints, irrespective of the nature of the complaints and should simply be filed.
The Central Vigilance Commission has also issued a series of circulars in this regard, the latest being Circular No 03/03/16 dated 07.03.2016. There have been cases where the Central Administrative Tribunal had quashed charge sheets filed on anonymous complaints. These DOPT’s memoranda are also applicable in Manipur and perhaps the CM was not properly briefed by the concerned officers as to the extant rule position.
No action can be taken on enquiries arising out of anonymous complaints. The raison d’etre for the above memoranda is that almost all anonymous complaints come from colleagues trying to run down one of their colleagues. If those who filed the complaints have the guts they should file it under their name. It is likely that the complaint was filed by someone in DIPR who eyes the DDO position!
There were also reports that in a function organised in Assam, the chief minister had assured that those Manipuri who are settled in other states will be allowed entry into the state without ILP. Hope that this report is incorrect as if correct it will be opening a Pandora’s Box.
What will be the definition of “Manipuri”? Will it include all those whose community reside in the state? Or will it include only those who or their forefathers have migrated from Manipur and if so, how will it be verified?
Rather than giving populist statements, it is better to stick to the provisions included in the order for ILP; or else it will lead to a series of conflicts and misunderstanding.
Recently, the Director of Veterinary has issued a public notice directing pony owners not to allow ponies to roam the roads and streets. It was also informed that if the owners do not have facilities to look after they may bring to the farms at Lamphelpat and Pangei. Past experience indicates that owners do not like to bring their ponies to the farms as the quality of feed supplied is very poor and literally uneatable by the animals.
At present, due to reasonable quantities of grasses/fodder, the animals may survive without much problem but once the season is over, the animals will half starve. There is always an owner when a pony is living but once it dies at public places due to accident or diseases, no one will accept ownership and this writer on two occasions had to bury two ponies by engaging excavators to dig the pit.
The relevant laws of the land like Cattle Trespass Act; IPC for causing public nuisance; etc is hardly applied.
The department needs to look after the animals in real earnest to draw the owners to bring their animals. Berating the owners is counterproductive as without the owners, there would have been no Manipuri pony, which is a pride of the State, the original polo pony. Because of the Manipuri pony, even now animals which are above 14.2 hands (147 cm) and generally used in modern polo are still called ponies.
Manipur enacted the Manipur Flood Plain Zoning Act, 1976 but its implementation to say the least is very poor and was never carried out with a holistic view to manage flood in the Manipur valley. River and stream banks up to a certain distance were banned from settlement under this Act. Any man-made structures inside the river course hinder free flow of water contributing to flooding and settlements on the banks hinder improvement and maintenance work.
Now and then efforts were made to evict encroachers from the specified zone but after sometime the efforts were abandoned. Attention of the Government is drawn to formulate a comprehensive plan to evict all encroachers within the specified areas.
The settlements on the banks of the rivers and streams within the specified zone may be divided into two groups; one settled prior to the commencement of the Act and the second those after its commencement. For the latter, notice must be given and steps taken to cancel the settlement that were made against the law illegally.
Those involved in settling them should be penalised and they ought to be named and shamed. For those whose settlement was made before the commencement of the Act, the Government must come out with a policy to take over the land on payment of compensation.
Such a step will cause heartburn to a small percentage of the population but it will greatly benefit the masses as with easy access to the rivers and streams within the valley all across the length, these can be cleaned and strengthened from time to time reducing flooding. The most telling example is the community halls constructed over the Takhelkhong or Khongman turel.
(The views expressed are personal)