Villagers in Manipur have sent out a strong message to the policy-makers after they took it upon themselves to repair a 19 km-long stretch of dilapidated road by pooling in fund and manpower.
The Maram-Purul-Phaibung road - located in Senapati district of Manipur - is a state highway which connects Ukhrul district. It is also an important lifeline for nearly 60 villages.
The state highway has been lying in a deplorable condition for long, despite numerous petitions to concerned authorities by the villagers.
Residents of the villages, under the aegis of Purul Union and Khoide Union, have taken it upon themselves to improve the roads. Around 2,000 men and women from the Senapati district have volunteered to repair the road.
The stretch is dotted with hazardous potholes, while the black topping has decayed. Mudslides during monsoons has been a main cause for accidents. Many fatalities have occurred in the past and the terrible condition of the road makes it difficult for the villagers to get adequate medical attention.
"We have submitted numerous petitions to concerned authorities. However, the road has been left to decay for the past 7 years. Finally we decided to generate fund from villagers to repair it all by ourselves. We no longer believe the State government or any authority will come to help us," said secretary of Khoide Union, Haile Phillip.
Philip said that Th Shyamkumar, an MLA from Andro Assembly constituency, donated Rs 50,000 for the work. "He has our blessings and his (Shyamkumar) gesture will go a long way in fostering ties between the hill and valley. We are indebted to his kindness," Phillip added.
Director of NEC, Kh Siile Anthony, has also donated Rs 50,000 for the cause. Altogether, the road repair initiative has collected a sum of Rs 2,39,388 so far.
President of Lepao Naga Union, RT Daiho, who is the authority of 32 villages said: "We have no further trust in the administration. We have come out to do the work ourselves. I have notified villagers to volunteer for the repairing work and we have overwhelming response from the people. We will complete the work in a week's time," he said.
Villagers have alleged that the designated SDC does not visit his office at Purul and have alleged negligence by the local MLA, Alexander Pao.
The money that was pooled in has been spent to hire an earthmover and a truck. All the food and tools are paid for by the villagers themselves, while none of the labourers work for pay.
Lupao Naga Union president RT Daiho said that they have been overseeing the road repairing work.