Sangai Festival concluded on Monday with moderate increase in footfall in the last extended two days. With boycott of COCOMI still on, the festival organiser resorted to giving free passage to the public unlike previous years’ ticketing system.
Speaking as the chief guest of the closing ceremony at BOAT Imphal, governor of Manipur Najma Heptulla said the state government’s department of Tourism has been making efforts to make Manipur a tourist destination. The Manipur Sangai Festival, which has been made a calendar event, is one such venture towards this objective, she stated.
While noting that the number of visitors and the sale during the festival is lower compared to the previous year, the governor also appealed to the agencies concerned to ascertain the reasons and come up with appropriate responses so that such issues are redressed.
The festival has been usually observed as a 10-day affair but this time it is shortened to 9-day event, she noted. It is an attempt to show-case the best traditions and culture besides promoting handloom and handicraft products, she said.
The festival has been at the forefront in promoting the Manipur Sangai Festival as a platform not only for the travel industry of the state but also for others including industry experts, business delegates and exhibitors from other Indian states and various other countries, she added.
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She further said the edition of the festival is proof of Manipur Tourism’s consistent efforts towards establishing Manipur as a brand on tourism map of the world. The event held at Keibul village was an earnest effort of the state government to highlight the importance of saving the endangered state animal of Manipur, she stated.
Najma further said that the efforts of state government towards increasing the tourism potential of the State has gained momentum during the last 4-5 years which is evident from the ever increasing tourists inflow to the State, said the governor.
The governor also appealed to all the people of Manipur, especially civil voluntary organisations to extend their fullest cooperation to make this calendar event a grand success.
Najma also urged the artistes to continue their efforts for improving their performance so that the rich cultural heritage of the State, both from the valley and the hills, are displayed in the true spirit for the tourists.
Speaking on the occasion, chief minister N Biren said there may be different problems in the State but those problems should not be shown to the visitors. He said Manipur has been tagged as disturbed area in the tourism map of British embassy.
A Japanese team who were planning to invest in the Northeastern states of the country also excluded Manipur among all other states, he stated. It is a matter of shame for the people of the state, he added.
The reason is some individuals have misguided the public and ignited different protests and agitations in the state, he said. The people of the state lack sense of responsibility and sense of belongingness, he stated. Even the elected representatives will not be able to perform their duties as a leader if they are immature and undisciplined, added Biren.
Sangai Festival has become an international event, he further said adding as such, businessmen from other states and foreign countries are taking part in the festival. But if they are not given good hospitality, they will not take part in the future, he said.
The chief minister also expressed his gratitude to the government officials and other participants of Sangai Festival for successful completion of the festival despite many obstructions.
Claiming that Sangai Festival is a mechanism to integrate people from hills and the valleys, Biren also said that Nagas and people from Mao have not officially taken part in the festival before. But the present government has integrated hills and valleys which the people should appreciate, he said.
The chief minister further said that the government is also investing huge amount of funds in the festivals because it brings love and understanding between the communities. Sangai Festival is also a foundation of oneness in the state and it will help in boosting the state economy, he noted. People initiating strikes and causing problems will not solve any of the problems, he remarked.
While stating that centre sponsored schemes and state schemes are reaching the deserving people, the chief minister also expressed his appreciation to the government officials for delivering the schemes. He informed that there are about 20, 800 old people who are left out from receiving old age pension scheme, and stated that money has been transferred to 10,000 beneficiaries. The remaining will also be delivered openly in presence of media at the earliest, he added.
Biren also lauded the security personnel for their ability to tackle protestors without hurting them and preventing untoward incidents from happening during the festival. He also informed that education minister and school authorities have been instructed to see that examinations do not collide with the festival.
Meantime, a few stall owners speaking to this reporter expressed gratitude to the state government for extending the days of the festival. They expressed hope that next year’s edition of the festival will not face similar hiccups.