By Kunal Majumder
STARTING 6 OCTOBER, four days of non-stop downpour has Imphal looking a bit like Venice. All rivers in the Manipur capital have breached their banks. Roads in former catchment areas have disappeared under knee-deep water. Power supply has been shut down. Women armed with fishing nets are a regular sight on the streets.
The Ibobi Singh government has announced a relief of 10 kg rice for each of the 18,000 affected households. With 5,500 quintals of rice up for distribution, the politics of flood relief has already begun.
On 11 October, 377 quintals of rice were being transported to Civil Supplies Minister Irabot Singh’s house for distribution. During transit, the CM’s nephew, Okram Henry, stopped the trucks so that he could distribute it. Henry, who wants to contest the Assembly poll from Irabot’s constituency, Wangkhei, clashed with the escort policemen. “I don’t understand what authority he has? Henry is only interested in gaining political mileage,” says Irabot.
Irengbam Arun, editor of Ireiba daily, says this is how a crisis is usually handled here. “The politicians are looking for publicity. They don’t care for the people,” he says, adding that instead of the promised 10 kg rice, people are getting only 8 kg.