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Block seeks status upgrade

Imphal, Aug. 11: The Okram Ibobi Singh cabinet’s decision to create five more subdivisions in the hills may stir a hornet’s nest with one tribal development block furious at having been left out.

Samu Lamlan tribal development block, in Churachandpur district, nearly 70km from Imphal, is one of the oldest in the hills.

Ignoring this block while creating five more subdivisions by the Ibobi Singh cabinet on August 7 left the people in this block fuming.

“The cabinet’s decision has disappointed us. We had expected that our block would also be upgraded to a subdivision. We feel neglected and ignored,” M. Lairamjao, 75, adviser to Samu Lamlan Subdivision Demand Committee, said.

The people of this block have more than one reason to be unhappy.

The then chief minister Rishang Keishing inaugurated the block office on January 24, 1988.

Four months after the office was opened at Samu Lamlan, it was shifted to Churachandpur town, at least 30km from the original office.

People of this block, including students, have to go to the office in Churachandpur town to get certificates and for other work.

Going to Churachandpur town is a waste of time, energy and money, the villagers said.

They said the Machi block in Chandel district, which was opened in 1988, was already upgraded to a subdivision.

Moreover, Ibobi Singh had created Bungte Chiru subdivision in Churachandpur district, which was not even a block, the villagers said.

As the office is in a far-off area, the people of this block have not been able get the benefits of centrally sponsored schemes.

“The only scheme which benefited us is the rural job guarantee scheme,” M. Rekhupsong, the secretary of the demand committee, said.

As a result, the block remains backward. A black top road will connect Samu Lamlan with Sagang bazaar for the first time in the history of the block.

“When a roller came in May this year, it was the first time that a majority of the people of this block saw a roller in their lives. So they spent whole days watching the roller levelling the road,” the adviser said.

The criterion to upgrade a block to a subdivision is that the block should have at least 100 villages. Samu Lamlan now has 120 villages.

The Centre has provided Rs 7 crore under special plan assistance to construct the block office, a police station, barracks, a bank and staff quarters. The construction of the infrastructure is nearing completion.

The committee has demanded that the construction should be completed and these offices should start functioning immediately.