Sadar hills: The achilles hill of Manipur

Published on January 20, 2005

By H. Hangshing

January 21, 2005: The Government of Manipur has been, for the last few years, agonized with a good number of unfulfilled dreams and promises of which, the most conspicuous one has been the creation of Sadar Hills as a full-fledged revenue district which, in fact, has become the Achilles Hill of Manipur. It is seen that, the high sounding political assurances and commitments of succeeding Governments were used to be evaporated in course of time.

Recently, perhaps relying on the maxim ‘slow and steady wins the race’, the All India Kuki Women Network in collusion with the Sadar Hills District Demand Committee has once again raked up the seemingly forgotten issue by organizing a mammoth gathering of the people of Sadar Hills at Thomas ground in Kangpokpi attended by renowned Kuki Ministers and MLA’s wherein a strongly worded resolution has been adopted avowing to push forward the issue on agitational basis till the rightful and committed demand becomes fructified.

The demand for the creation of Sadar Hills District was first mooted and conceptualized in the heat of political exuberance of the inauguration of Statehood of Manipur in 1972 when creation of more district and upgradation of existing sub-divisions had been the thrust point of the then Government, among which was included Sadar Hills upgradation topping the slot of the administrative reforms program. Side by side, the same had been an unmistakable political agendum of the political parties and election candidates as well.

Surprisingly, till today, Sadar Hills has become a myth rather than a reality remaining an Achilles Hill of Manipur as ever. Looking back, one cannot but wonder as to how such a burning issue which had once braced the centre-stage of the Manipur politics could have remained unattended and ever sidelined.

Considering the magnitude of the mass political movement, the commotion it had created, the dust it had kicked up in a chain action and reaction, where the SHDC, the KSO, KIM and other organization taking up the cudgel, staging bandhs and blockades, sustaining huge loss of public properties, incurring huge drain of State exchequer, it is unbelievable that the matter would thus end up in smoke. In the present day context of degenerating political situation, the repetition of such political situation is rather unthinkable.

At any rate, it is a clear case of political hypocrisy and disregard of people’s political rights. As for the viability of the creation of Sadar Hills, needless to say that it was a clear-cut issue which was thoroughly discussed upon, resolved and declared several times even on the floor of Assembly. As for economic development, Sadar hills tagged to the biggest district, Senapati, is the most backward subdivision in Manipur.

To a casual observer, the very fact that the National Highway 39 cuts through right into the heart of the district may be taken for economic development, whereas, in fact, till today there is no black-topped inter sub-divisional roads, no proper inter-village roads, no telecommunication facilities, no water supplies schemes and no power stations, no industries. Again there is no dependable financial institution, no district hospital and most of the departments are under the administrative heads located at Senapati district headquarters.

Besides all these, the unusual oblong topography of the sub-division bordering four districts of Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong and Churachandpur poses a baffling problem for free access to the district headquarters of Senapati. What more, sandwiched between the hills and the valley of Manipur, always skipped by both the rural and urban development schemes of the State, Sadar Hills till today is neither Sadar, nor valley, nor hill and nor district.

It is therefore important to remember that while agitations and bandhs and blockaders are undoubtedly effective political weapons, intensive lobbying and discreet political maneuvering to enlist the popular support of other right-thinking pressure groups and political bodies are the need of the hour to help the Government solve the long drawn problem of Sadar Hills.