K Anurag in Guwahati
Ban is the bane of life in the frontier state of Manipur that is plagued by myriad troubles ranging from insurgency, ethnicity to underdevelopment.
Till ten days back the state was being crippled by unrelenting economic blockade along the two arterial national highways connecting it to the rest of the country.
Another ban of a different kind which will have adverse impact on its development process is staring at the state. The United Naga Council of Manipur has imposed ban on construction of Jiribam-Tupul broad gauge railway line for two months effective from December 16 in protest against the recent statement of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh about the Centre’s commitment to protect the territorial integrity of Manipur.
The UNC has also imposed ban on exploration of hydrocarbon that is being taken up by public sectors undertakings/private companies in Tamenglong district of Manipur with effect from December 16 till further notice.
The UNC, which supports the Naga rebel group National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak Muivah’s demand for a ‘greater Nagalim’ comprising all Naga-inhabited areas of the Northeast including those in Manipur, has been frustrated by the PM’s statement made in Imphal on December 3 last.
The UNC has been engaged in dialogue with the Centre as well as Manipur government over its demand for an alternative administrative arrangement for Nagas in Manipur.
The ban on works on the railway tracks construction comes close on the heels of suspension of the 120 days economic blockade by the UNC on Imphal-Dimapur and Imphal-Silchar highways just ten days back. It was called from August 21 by the UNC to stymie creation of a separate revenue district for Kuki-tribe dominated SADAR hills areas in Naga-majority Senapati district of Manipur.
The PM, during his public address in Imphal, also said that works on the 125-km railway line from Jiribam via Tupul was under progress and likely to be completed by March, 2016, after completion of the Jiribam-Tupul portion by March, 2014.
According to sources in Northeast Frontier Railway in Guwahati, the construction of Jiribam-Tupul board-gauge railway line was started from 2003-04. There will be nine stations between Jiribam and Tupul at Jiribam, Bolakhan, Keimai road, Kambiron, Thingu, Molsang, Noney and Tupul.
Construction of 10 out of total 35 tunnels to be built has been completed and with the completion of survey works, construction works for another five tunnels have started.
Fourteen large bridges and 73 small bridges are being constructed along the railway line. The longest bridge (500 meter) on this stretch is being constructed across Maku River while the longest tunnel (5.9 km) is located at Kambiron.