IMPHAL, Aug 16 (PTI): The Manipur government is racing
against time to complete the first batch of prefabricated houses
to shelter 3,000 families displaced by the ethnic violence so
that they can shift from relief camps.
Many of those affected by the strife have been sheltering in the
temporary relief camps for more than three months.
Superintending engineer P Brojendro of Manipur Police
Housing Corporation Limited, which is undertaking the project,
told PTI, ”The construction began from June 26 onwards in five
different places and we are racing against time to complete the
state government’s initiative as soon as possible.”
Noting that 200 houses being built near Sajiwa Jail in Imphal
East district is nearing completion, the official said that each
house will have two rooms and a toilet and there will be
common kitchens, while ten houses will form a row.
Around 160 labourers are working to complete the 200
prefabricated houses, the deadline for which is August 20.
”Materials used for constructing these houses include puff
panel for walls, powder-coated aluminium frame for windows
and pre-painted CI sheets for roofs,” he said.
”The greatest challenge of transporting these materials into
Manipur was blockades on the highways of the landlocked
state,” he said.
He said labourers for assembling the houses were brought in by
flights while the foundation was done by local workers.
Prefabricated houses for at least 400 families are being built in
the Yaithibi Loukol area in Thoubal district, and another 120 at
Kwakta in Bishnupur district.
Similar houses are also being built at Sekmai in Imphal West
district and Sawombung in Imphal East.
”Completion of the houses, particularly at Kwakta, faced
setbacks due to consistent exchange of fire between
unidentified people and state police,” another senior official
”The prevailing law and order situation in the hill areas proved
it extremely difficult to implement the project there,” he said.
The internally-displaced people (IDPs), who will be celebrating
Independence Day in their makeshift shelters, feel shifting to
the newly constructed houses is a good move but yearn to
return to their homes from where they had to flee when riots
Kishorjit P, one of the IDPs who stays at a relief camp in Imphal
East district, said, ”I will not shift to the prefabricated houses. I
want to return to Churachandpur from where we had to flee.
Of course, proper security arrangements have to be taken. I
was born and raised in Churachandpur and have an emotional
attachment to my ancestral place.”
Another IDP, Ranjita S, however, said she was looking forward
to shifting to the new place of residence.
"We cannot live in relief camps forever. At some point, we need
to start afresh. These prefabricated houses will be the first step
to a new life,” she added.
Notably, more than 160 people lost their lives and several
hundred were injured since the ethnic clashes broke out in
Manipur on May 3 after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was
organised in the hill districts to protest the Meitei community’s
demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
Many people have been rendered homeless in the violence,
with some even seeking shelter in neighbouring states, as their
houses have been gutted in the ethnic strife.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population
and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals — Nagas and Kukis –
– constitute little over 40 per cent and reside in the hill districts.