Tening/Tamei | August 17
Road infrastructure constitutes the backbone of any economy and is critical for development of other areas.
However, it is in total neglect in Nagaland with omnipresent bad roads and potholes. “It will be difficult to get there” is a common refrain one encounters reflecting the sorry state of affairs especially in the rural areas.
The road arteries in Peren District are no exception but it stands out as one goes deeper into the district. The infrastructure crumbles suddenly and traces of connectivity in all spheres disappear.
Such bleak ground realities were evident when The Morung Express recently joined the Nagaland Motorcycle Club (NMC) during their 1st Monsoon Expedition from August 12-14.
There are hints of development till Peren via Jalukie reflected by numerous unfinished or under construction road works. However, when one passes Peren Town, it is completely a different picture. The precarious road from Peren to Tening Town covering nearly 28 km is not for the faint-hearted.
The town is headquarter of the Tening Rural Development Blocks consisting of 28 villages as per the 2011 census. It is the last major town in the south bordering the present state of Nagaland and Manipur.
In most stretches, the road is either a pond or flowing river. Besides, the system of modern communication likes mobile and other services become redundant.
At Tesen (Old), located in the middle of Tening and Peren, an elderly citizen said that the last time he remembers road works being undertaken was in 1984, over three decades back.
It was GREF, he reminisced referring to General Reserved Engineering Force (GREF) under Border Road Organization. He doesn’t recollect the road being repaired again.
The only semblance of government presence is cutting of overgrown grass and trees in some stretches, the alternative for repairing.
Electricity was all right, but missing for a day or two due to bad weather, he said as if justifying the lack of government’s presence. There is also a Health Centre, he informed.
A ramshackle abandoned Assam Rifles outpost greeting the visitor at the outskirt of Tening Town reflects the dire situation.
The town is equally sleepy and the road is no different.
As the case with Tesen, the electricity was playing truant. Due to bad weather, electricity is missing as is usually the case, a local informed. Consequently, the State-run BSNL Mobile service, its sole connectivity to outside world, was the down. The locals have simply resigned to their fate.
For transportation, Nagaland State Transport operates services on alternative days while there are also private operators.
When enquired about bad roads, an old timer confirmed Tesen’s narrative. He did not remember exact year but he could name the ‘company’ – GREF.
A prominent citizen said that they have simply tired of submitting memorandums about the road.
When prodded about being a politically strong constituency, he said “What can we do, if we blame the government, we would be blaming our own party.”
This is true because the present Chief Minister of Nagaland TR Zeliang has contested six times from the Tening constituency, winning four times in a row beginning with a Naga People’s Council ticket in 1989 and subsequently in 1993, 1998 and 2003 under the Indian National Congress holding various cabinet portfolios. In 2008 and 2013, he was elected from Peren. Namri Nchang, an advisor in TR Zeliang government represents the Tening constituency presently.
The 9.5 km road from Tening to Ntu village is equally neglected but relatively better. Also known as Ntuma, the last village before the border between Nagaland and Manipur divided by Barak and Maguiki River in the south, had 209 household with 1,153 persons in 2011.
When enquired about the same, a local said the road was constructed in 1990s, therefore relatively better when compared with Peren-Tening road.
At present, there are four schools catering up to class 9. After this, students have to go either to Tening, the nearest town or other places for higher education, a local youth informed.
The village has a primary health centre with one medical officer and 7 other supporting staff. But the MO is mostly missing in action, he added.
The electricity was also down for the last two days due to bad weather, he said. He was keeping his mobile off for emergency just in case it continued for some more days.
The road from Ntu village to Manipur border is treacherous. On the one hand, the sloping terrain is frighteningly steep. One wrong move and one is unsure where to land. On the other hand, the road is either adorned by deep potholes or running water, interspersed with landslides and muddy water at every turn. The only sign of government presence is an old and rusted decrepit signage. The deep jungle with no possibility for sunlight acerbates the bad condition.
When one reaches the Manipur side of the border, however, there are distinct differences. Right after the riverside, one is greeted with bustling life on the other side. Electricity was not playing truant here. A security outpost right near the riverbank gives one a sense of ‘security’
Most of the villages are Nagas along the way to Tamei, a sub-division headquarter under Tamenglong District of Manipur. BSNL mobile service is working here and the bustling town has amenities for travelers.
The inter-state road connecting Tening in Peren district to Tamei in Manipur needs up-gradation, the Peren District Human Development Report observed in 2014. Nagaland Vision 2030 informed that the proposal to convert the Maibung-Tening- Tamei road in Manipur as a National Highway is yet to be approved.
Till then, the citizens have to resign to their fate.