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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I still say “Buy a boat”

Thursday, 20 July 2017 10:40
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~Monalisa Changkija

Hearing about how severely Dimapur has been inundated by very jubilant rains on the night of July 18, and seeing some photographs of the disastrous consequences thereof, I remembered having written about the same problem in my Column “The State of Affairs”, in the now defunct Dimapur-based Weekly Nagaland Times, titled Buy a Boat, way back in 1986. I don’t remember whether that particular Column was written or published on October 22, 1986, but my type-written copy of Buy a Boat, which I have preserved, is dated October 22, 1986 ~ before my elder daughter was born. And that day was my first wedding anniversary. Okay, before I wander too far down memory lane, let me share with you some of my thoughts from the past ~ just to remind you that our present isn’t too different from our past. 

So here it is:  

“Almost two weeks of rain made a complete gutter of Dimapur. I need not describe the scene because it is there for all to see and experience. The main topic of conversation during the period was the tragic lack of a drainage system in the town. Wisely, everyone predicted that Dimapur is going to be the “second Calcutta” of India. This sort of opinion is voiced every year. Still the silence of the concerned Departments hangs heavy over us. Frankly, what can they say? After all, even the tiniest bit of ‘nala’ land is either allotted or grabbed and huge buildings are erected over them thereby stopping the free flow of water. Besides, each Department seems to be blaming the other for jobs undone. What more can one expect, anyway? Government Departments seem to be the same all over the country.

“But the worst of all is the complacency and apathy of the public. No one seems to be bothered to raise any voice or protest against bad roads, clogged drains and numerous other such problems. We must realize frightened murmurs of discontent have never wrought any great changes. And, “CLEAN DIMAPUR DRIVE” once a year is hardly enough. They seem more like token gestures and a mere formality. The public should demand that at least the ‘nalas’ be left alone. They are our natural drains and I don’t think that we will get any more of them.

“Let me relate what a gentleman told me during the rainy days. He said: “You Journalists should do something about the drainage system”. I asked: “Like what?” He replied: “Write about them”. If writing alone would have solved problems, all of us would have written till kingdom come, not only about the drainage problems of Dimapur, Calcutta, Bombay, etc., but all other problems too. It seems most convenient to push the responsibility of “doing something” about public utilities and services to Journalists. I don’t really want to say: “Will the public please stand up and shoulder  your responsibilities and demand services from the Government or whoever is supposed to take care of these things”, because nobody is going to bother. All I am going to say is: please invest in a steamboat or any boat according to your financial capacity. You will need it.” 

 


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