Villagers in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh took upon themselves to bring about the change they wanted to see after repeated pleas of help to the government fell on deaf ears.
In Manipur’s Senapati district, some 1,200 villagers got together to repair a 21 km road after knocking at the government’s door for seven years.
The Maram-Purul Road, a state road, is the lifeline for at least 60 villages including Khoide and Purul. The villagers had no one to turn to, as the status of the local MLA has been vague after he “resigned” last year.
And they weren’t lucky to have a civil servant like Armstrong Pame, who had a 100km road built in adjoining Tamenglong district in 2012 with Rs 40 lakh raised through social media.
Three local Naga unions decided to take things into their hands after having had enough of running from pillar to post. Since August 30, the villagers took turns to cut earth and lay pebbles for the road.
“We started collecting funds from the people before starting the community project. More than 1,200 volunteers have worked to complete the road,” PL Jacob, a member of the Purul Union, told Hindustan Times.
Major donors for the road include KS Anthony, an officer of the Shillong-headquartered North Eastern Council who hails from the affected area. He donated Rs 50,000, matching the amount that Th Shyamkumar, a Trinamool Congress MLA, contributed.
“The authorities simply ignored our petitions for repairing the road. We could no longer trust the state government, but we knew we could trust each other for a common good,” Khoide Union secretary H Phillip said.
He also appreciated Shyamkumar, a Meitei from Imphal Valley, for extending help to a remote Naga village. Nagas and Meiteis have not had the best of relationships in Manipur, which has been ruled by the Congress since 2003.
A similar scenario has played out in Seppa, the headquarters of East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.
The residents of some localities in Seppa town raised Rs 70,000 to install CFL streetlights a few days ago. “We pooled the money after the electricity department failed to address our problems despite repeated pleas,” Chandra Yangfo, chairperson of the town’s Type-1 Colony Development Committee, said.
But unlike in Manipur, the East Kameng district administration took up the responsibility of maintaining the streetlights and paying the electricity bill.
The residents of the localities have now demanded a separate 33KV line and transformer since the existing one is overloaded.
“We share the line that supplies electricity to two other small towns nearby, resulting in frequent faults. We will have a line of our own if the authorities cannot provide,” a resident said.