Manipur has always been in the news, particularly in the mainstream media, for reasons of conflict, ethnic armed struggles, and insurgency/counter-insurgency operations. There are enough reasons to believe that this state, which lies at the North eastern end of India and sharing its borders with Myanmar, has seen more human-made disasters than natural ones – particularly so in the decades since Independence.
All this until Cyclone Komen struck South West Chittagong in Bangladesh, last month. The cyclone has made its fury felt as far as Manipur and Mizoram, in ways beyond words.
In Manipur, it threw life out of gear for most of its people. Massive floods, of an unprecedented scale had inundated Manipur’s valley districts. This was the worst anyone had seen or recorded in the last 200 years; catching everyone by surprise – including the state machinery. Nobody was prepared to deal with such a crisis. Manipur was in the news once again, this time for reasons beyond conflicts.
The latest situation
Floods and massive landslides affected 7 districts – Thoubal, Bishnupur, Imphal West, Imphal East districts that fall in the valley and Chandel, Ukhrul, Churachandpur districts that lie on the hills. Thoubal, Chandel and Churnchandpur being the worst affected of the lot. 24 people have lost their lives so far and 21 of them from Joumi village where houses sunk after a massive landslide.
Even though official figures are awaited, it is estimated that over 300,000 people have been affected in Manipur – most of them taking shelter in public buildings, schools, community halls, road sides and higher lands in their respective villages. Majority of the people affected have taken shelter at a friend’s or a relative’s place.
More than 100 villages, mostly in Chandel and Churachandpur districts are still cut off as the roads and bridges caved in, cracked or were washed away at different locations. This has paused major challenge to rescue operations and also in realistically assessing the extent of the damage and loss of lives. It will be weeks, or even months, before road connectivity is restored.