And rains came
The recent downpour for six uninterrupted days in Manipur should be eye-opener for the city fathers of Imphal. The valley received the highest rainfall ever in 63 years and life virtually came to a halt. And the rainy season has not even started. Business was affected and most people remain indoors. Ministers and MLAs went scurrying for cover as many localities remained inundated for days. But, it was not the rains which led to floods and inundation in the valley most particularly in the Imphal city, the clogged drains helped in sustaining the flood for many days. For a valley which once had a perfect drainage system and waterways in the past, the present drainage system is a joke on our forefathers. The ancient Puya ‘Tutenglon’ speaks of a drainage system which leads to the major rivers or rivulets leading to the Loktak lake and further through Manipur river into the Chindwin river or the Barak system. Major research works have been done on the waterway system which was prevalent in ancient times. Trade and transportation were mostly dependent on the waterway system. Nobody reads the ancient Puyas which happens to be the treasure trove of knowledge passed down the centuries and the research works on the Puyas anymore. And now, let us talk about the drainage system of Imphal. Fifty years back, the drains on both sides of the major roads were about 3-5 metres, and in the lanes 1-2 metres and flash floods were vitually unknown in those days. Come what may, the drains were never clogged and excess water was drained out through the Nambul river and the Naga Nallah which passes through the heart of Imphal. Lamphelpat and Takyelpat were low lying areas where the excess water of Nambul is stored for sometime to prevent floods which again drain out after the river level comes down. Other rivers also have such temporary depositories. In recent times, the government has reclaimed the Pats for building housing colonies and other structures and the basic purpose of such low lying areas has been defeated. And the width and depth of the drains on main roads and lanes has been greatly reduced. For main roads, the width of the roadside drains have been reduced to one metre with a depth of one metre while that of the drains in lanes to one and half feet. One may say that, in the olden days the main roads and lanes were narrow, and that most parts of the drains had to be filled up for creating wider roads and lanes. The narrow and shallow drains with covers coupled with the change in the character of garbage have clogged the drains. A major waste material which stands out in present times is plastic wrappers, bottles big and small, and other non-degradable items. As the drains are mostly covered, there is practically no hope of daily maintenance by any concerned citizen. So, considering the increase in population and changing nature of waste material, it is necessary to widen the drains by asking people to part with portions of land for a greater cause. Of course, there is the Land Acquisition Act. For which, one must acquire the political will to do so.
Leader Writer: Irengbam Arun