R.B. Thohe Pou *
In this modern era – who would like to travel 5-10 hours on foot? Do you believe that most of the villages in Purul Sub-division, Senapati District, Manipur still travel 5-10 hours on foot to catch the Bus from the nearest village bus station or from NH39?
Even if you believe this fact – you need to travel on foot to these villages to feel the reality in your heart as you burn your feet and ache your entire body. The Purul Sub-division in Senapati District is dominated by Poumai Naga tribe with one of the highest population growth rate in India. There are 60 revenue villages and about 40% of the total villages have not Jeepable road during rainy season .
Recently a friend of mine – name John Basho Pou, a Journalist – who loves to preserve the rich traditional culture and an enthusiastic explorer to new places – took a trip together to the eastern parts of Poumai Naga dominated areas to see the ground reality of these villages.For the first time – the Bus commenced to ply from Senapati Headquarter to Lakhamai village in 2004. However till today, no Jeep or TATA Sumo is plyable during the rainy season. Most of the village in Chiliive circle (Purul Sub-division) are located around 60-70 Kms away from Senapati Headquarter.
In 1990s people traveled on foot around 14-16 hours to catch the Bus from NH39 at Maram Bazar. Just ponder how the villagers from Songdo, Thiwa, Ngari, Khongdei, Kodom, Ngamju etc still travel around 6-8 hours on foot to catch the Bus from the nearest village Bus station (Purul village).
As there is no Bus service from Senapati to Sirong village, which is one of the main village to reach the other villages. We took a TATA Sumo from Senapati and went to Sirong village (original village of NSCN leader Muivah, before migrated to Ukhrul District).
We were excited as we reached Sirong village since we’ve never been to this circle also we are going to travel on foot and encounter the ground reality. From Sirong village – we went on foot to Khongdei (Dumai) village, which took around two and half hours.
The Kutcha Road is small and copious with bushes; it is also sloping steep from Sirong to Iril River and from Iril River to Khondei village. From Khongdei village, we went on foot to Kodom Khavii, Kodom Khullen, Lakhamai and back to Sirong village. However we are regretted for we could not go to Songdo village (Poumai Indigenous Salt producing village) and other villages like, Thiwa, Ngari village etc due to rain and exhaustion.
As we traveled in the wilderness – we heard the sweet song of Cicada, birds and other wild animals. If John Keats or Alfred Tennyson or any poet would have travel on this less travel road – they would have composed a beautiful poem. However we had recorded only the sweet song of Cicada in my friend’s type recorder as a memento of our trip to less trodden road.
The Bus ply in the Kutcha Road from Maram Bazar (NH39) to Purul village is in a pathetic condition forget about plying the buses after Purul village.
In this computer era – when people possess their own Helicopter and Mercedes – some of the villagers in Chiliive circle have not even seen the Bus – forget about travelling by Bus from their villages to District Headquarter.
As we talked to the village authorities (Gaonboras) and asked about their problem – the villagers are crying for help to construct the bus playable road linking to their villages from Senapati Headquarter. It seems the villages in this areas are the forgotten villages in Manipur.
In this less or less trodden road – how many Politicians, Political leaders, NGOs, Government Officers etc have travel on foot to these villages? Who dare to travel on foot to see the ground reality or have the patient to listen the grievances of these villagers? In this less educated villages – who will voice their grievances in local or national Newspaper?
This year there was an epidemic occurred in some villages but it was reported very late to the concern officers. There was also drought in some villages in this area but only God knows and who else will know. There is Primary Health Sub-Center in some villages but there is not Doctor or Nurse.
Due to road transportation and communication problems – many villagers also died every year as they cannot take the sick people to the district hospitable.
The newly constructing road from Senapati Headquarter to Phaibung village is going to pass through many villages in this areas but only God knows when it will be completed and ply the bus.
If the present constructing road is successful – it would ease the problem of travelling on foot on this areas. Not only ease the problem of travelling on foot but it would also boost their economic life as there is great potentiality of truck farming in these villages.
Once the road transportation is improved and commence the truck farming in these villages – it would be a great help to many people in Imphal, Senapati, Kohima and Dimapur to get fresh vegetables in abundant. Vegetables farming is possible to carry out in some villages in Mao-Maram and Paomata Sub-division as there is better road transportation and marketing facilities.
Once the Mao’s potatoes, cabbage, plum etc were very popular in Manipur and Nagaland due to high quality and cheap availability. But today the Poumai’s Potatoes and Cabbages are becoming more popular in Imphal, Senapati, Kohima and Dimapur as the farmers do not use the chemical fertilizers and it is cheaply available with high quality.
In Paomata sub-division a village name Tungjoy is very famous of cabbage cultivation. On an average they earned around 40-50 thousand rupees per year from cabbage cultivation. The Poumai Naga tribe has one of the biggest cultivable farm land in Senapati District and there is great potentiality to do truck farming both in Paomata and Purul Sub-division once there is good road transportation and communication facilities.
In conclusion, I would like to suggest many things to be done for these poor villages like construction of road, regular electricity, medical facilities, educational institution etc.
However the present urgent need is to have good road transportation. Therefore I would like to request and suggest the Government of Manipur, local politicians, political leaders, Poumai Masou Me (Poumai Naga Union), Poumai Tsiidoumai Me (Poumai Students Union) and the public leaders to seriously consider the urgent need of these villages and construct the bus plyable road.
As I mentioned above – once there is good road transportation in these areas, there will surplus fresh vegetables in Imphal, Senapati, Kohima and Dimapur through out the year, which will be a great benefit to these villagers and to the people in the periphery villages and towns.
Written on 17th Dec.05
R.B. Thohe Pou, a resident of Manipur, contributes regularly to e-pao.net
You can email the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was webcasted on 07th January 2006.