It is that time of the year again when hapless inhabitants of villages in Phungyar subdivision of Ukhrul district of Manipur are forced to chip in their own contribution and repair the road themselves during monsoon each year. Case in point is the Shangshak-Tengnoupal road which is in a perpetual state of purgatory due to non repair for years.
Interestingly, the road which is facing government apathy for over two decades also happens to be within the home turf of an ex MP and former chief minister of Manipur Rishang Keishing. This 30 kms road not just links Phungyar subdivision with Sangshak and the rest of the state but also provides connectivity to over 20 contiguous villages and hamlets under the subdivision.
"Today, we are taking up repair of the road because the villagers of the area have been facing untold hardships while travelling along the road as the government has not repaired it since 1990s and we have been doing this for years now," said Rungshim Angkang, chieftain of Leishi village in an interaction with the media Wednesday on the sideline of the work site where about 300 people from seven villages engaged in repair of the broken road.
But the worst is during monsoon when the road is fully logged with water as major portions of the road surface have withered away, he rued, adding that every year people of each village contribute some amounts from their own pockets and repair the road during this time of year.
"This year, with the generous assistance of a retired IRS officer Hopingson A Shimray, apart from our own contribution, we have been able to take up repair work better. Service of a total of seven trucks offered by each village are pressed into action and major potholes along the 30kms stretch from Koso to Shakok village are being filled with stones to improve the road, Angkang said.
Since its first blacktopping in 1990s, the government has not bothered to maintain the road, the chieftain said and added that despite repeated appraisal the relevant authorities has turned a deaf ear. Earlier, the road was under the care of BRTF but after State PWD took over the onus for its upkeep in 2013, the road has worsened to a great extent due to non repair, he pointed out.
Around 2007-9, repairing work was taken up under SPA funds, but the contractors had flouted norms and only cosmetic repair was done and most broken portions were left unrepaired, he lamented.
Meanwhile, village chiefs of the seven villages have expressed their gratitude to Hopingson A Shimray for his concern and initiatives in mitigating hardships of the hapless villagers of the area.