Pames' dream road nears completion

Imphal, Jan. 22: The dream of an IAS officer's family to construct the "Great Indian Road" at Tousem in Tamenglong district of Manipur will be realised soon as Armstrong Pame, the sub-divisional magistrate, who took the initiative, said the road would be inaugurated next month.

The nearly 100km long Tamenglong-Tousem-Haflong road, also named The Peoples Road, will connect Manipur, Assam and Nagaland.

Though the project went smoothly, the only disappointment was that the target of gifting the road as a Christmas present to the people could not be realised because of unforeseen problems.

"Only 4km is left. Construction is in full swing. We are planning to inaugurate it after February 20," Pame told The Telegraph from Tousem over the phone.

He said the target of completing the road before Christmas could not be achieved, as cutting the unfriendly hilly terrain was very difficult.

Tamenglong is one of the least developed districts of Manipur. The condition of Tousem sub-division is worse though it has huge scope for horticulture and growing agriculture products like orange, ginger, garlic and turmeric.

However, because of poor connectivity, the sub-division remains in a time warp.

The North Eastern Council-funded Tamenglong-Tousem-Haflong road was sanctioned in the Sixth Five Year Plan. The state public works department executed the work but could not complete it.

During President's rule in 1994, the work was entrusted to the Border Roads Organisation, which failed again to kick-start the project.

During a special development seminar held in Tamenglong jointly by the Union home ministry and Manipur government in November 2000, the Centre assured a sum of Rs 42.71 crore. Nothing came out of it.

The then home minister P. Chidambaram visited Tousem in November 2011 and reassured immediate construction of the road.

After many failed promises, the Pame family took up the initiative.

Armstrong's elder brother Jeremiah Pame, assistant professor at Delhi University, is raising funds through a Facebook group called Tamenglong Haflong Road Construction, which has now crossed 9,300 members.

Work began in August but was disrupted by rain. Work resumed in September. With funds contributed by the villagers and people from 23 countries the road is finally ready to see the light of the day.

"Katangnam village was newly connected by the road and the village saw a motor vehicle for the first time. They thought it was just a dream to connect their village because of so many broken promises," Jeremiah told The Telegraph.

He said financial constraint was slowing down work.

"Once the road is complete, Tousem will witness an economic boom as the villagers will have marketing facilities through the road," said Armstrong, the first IAS officer from the Zeme community.

The Facebook group and the website of the project, http://thegreatindianroad.in lists the details of the project.

The efforts of the Pame family and public support will address the basic problems of food, education and economy. The road will connect Tousem with district headquarter town of Tamenglong and also with Haflong of Assam.

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