Happy ending to hospital bickering

THE hue and cry raised by people of Khundrakpam assembly constituency and adjoining areas against the plan to relocate the site of the proposed Imphal east district hospital from Sagolmang Khewa to Kyamgei in Keirao assembly constituency could have been averted if at all the government of Manipur was not averse to the idea of constructing hospitals in the two said assembly constituencies, as was decided during Friday’s cabinet meeting. That deadlock over the hospital site has been a serious bone of contention between the people and the government could be comprehended from the cabinet meeting according priority to the issue. Even more interesting outcome of the cabinet meeting was the unprecedented decision for setting up two healthcare centres. For the last few months, the rage has been mainly centred on charges and counter-charges over alleged lack of consensus regarding land ownership over the construction site at Sagolmang Khewa. With the government paying no heed to constant intimations by organisations and individuals which/who have been insisting for setting up the hospital at the previously designated site, there has been a strong sense of apprehension that the proposed move to relocate the hospital to Kyamgei was due to political considerations. In case land dispute was the main reason for relocating the hospital from the earlier site, people of Khundrakpam AC and nearby places would have appreciated the government had it played the role of a facilitator in bringing the land donors concerned to the negotiating table for ironing out their differences instead of presumably fuelling the rage by favouring Kyamgei over Sagolmang Khewa. Friday’s cabinet meeting approving construction of two district level hospitals for one district gives an impression that the land row was not the primary reason for the government’s reluctance to execute the project.

Instead of compounding the problem by remaining indifferent to the people’s aspiration for convenient access to viable healthcare facility, the government could have demonstrated that when it comes to development and welfare of the state masses political considerations will not come into play. Though it is understandable that politics is centred on criticism, rhetoric and one-upmanship between the ruling and the opposition, public leaders need to realise that any bid, overtly or covertly, to deny the people of what has been promised to them will understandably compel the dejected side to feel marginalised and betrayed by the government. It is also obvious that politicisation of developmental issues or sensitive matters will only aggravate the situation and widen the gap of distrust between the people and the government, as was the case in the hospital issue when Khundrakpam-based civil society organisations resorted to various forms of agitations, shut down government institutions in the assembly segment and some protesters even suffered injuries during police crackdown against demonstrators/bandh enforcers. Logistically too, Sagolmang seems to be a suitable location for the hospital as it would not only cater to healthcare needs of people settling in the eastern fringes of Imphal East district but also from the nearby hill areas like Saikul sub-division and parts of Ukhrul district. Though only time will tell how the government would galvanise requisite resources to implement the two hospital projects after stoic defiance to the demand of the Khundrakpam public, the recent cabinet decision will hopefully redeem the new government’s slogan to usher in uniform development and keep the promise made to the people.

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