ST. STEPHEN’S IS PROUD OF
A 2005 graduate from St Stephen's College in Delhi,
It is a
matter of great pride that one of us –Armstrong Pame- is blazing the
trail (pun intended) in Manipur. He embodies the true Stephanian
spirit which, a few decades ago, was articulated by C. F. Andrews.
be a role model for the Junior Members.
would welcome the suggestions of all members of the College towards
furthering the cause that Armstrong is pioneering.
Ad Dei Gloriam!
Rev. Dr. Valson Thampu
THE TIMES OF INDIA
3 November 2012
Naga IAS officer builds
100-km road in Manipur without govt help
IMPHAL: Villagers of Manipur's Tousem sub-division in Tamenglong
district are a busy lot these days. At least 150 of them on a daily
basis are clearing away a thicket with their machetes and daos. Some
are lugging away heavy branches of recently felled trees; and others
are operating bulldozers and earthmovers to give themselves the
"best Christmas gift ever".
Theirs is one of the remotest corners in
the country, where the India shining story has not yet reached; but
the villagers are part of modern India's most ambitious road project
embarked upon by one man, a young Naga IAS officer, without any
funding from the government.
graduate from St Stephen's College in Delhi, Armstrong Pame is the
sub-divisional magistrate of Tamenglong, his home district, and the
first IAS officer from the Zeme tribe. He has, of his own volition,
begun the construction of a 100-km road that would link Manipur with
Nagaland and Assam. Incidentally, the Centre had sanctioned Rs 101
crore in 1982 for the construction of this road, but for some
unknown reason the project never took off. "Last December, then
Union home minister P Chidambaram visited Manipur and asked what
happened to the road.
state government declared that it would be 'done soon', but nothing
moved on the ground. Then in June-July this year, there was an
outbreak of tropical diseases like typhoid and malaria. It takes two
days for anyone in the village to make it to the nearest hospital on
foot in the absence of a motorable road. Hundreds of patients had to
be carried on makeshift bamboo stretchers, but very few made it to
the town alive.
town doctors were unwilling to come to the village because of its
inaccessible terrain," Pame told TOI over phone from Tamenglong.
Perplexed and frustrated with the situation, the officer decided to
reach out to doctors in his friend circle. A woman friend agreed,
and Pame promised to sponsor her stay. "She treated over 500
patients and conducted quite a few minor surgeries. Many lives were
saved in this way; but I realized how perilously poised the
situation was in the absence of a road. That was the catalyst," Pame
construct an all-weather, motorable road in an area untouched by the
progress made by Independent India in the last six decades was an
uphill task. And with no help coming from the government, Pame
turned to his family and well-wishers.
"Armstrong and I grew up in a village in Tousem amid a lot of
hardships. Our father was a schoolteacher and had a limited income.
We used to walk down to the district headquarters
about 60km away and carry 25 kilos
of rice back home. It used to take us four days to go and come back
and the rations used to last for two weeks. When we came to Delhi
for higher studies, we would survive on biscuits for days without
enough money to buy food. The remoteness of our village ruined its
economy; and we knew that unless there was a road, there would be no
development. So, when Armstrong proposed to undertake the venture,
we all threw our lot with him," said Jeremiah Pame, an assistant
professor at the Delhi University and elder brother of Armstrong.
wife and I donated our one month's salary, Armstrong paid five
months' of his, and our mother paid our dad's one month's pension of
Rs 5,000. Our youngest brother, Lungtuabui, recently started
working. He donated his entire first month's pay for the project,"
family together pooled Rs 4 lakh to start the project. They hired a
bulldozer and bought two earthmovers. "But it was not enough; we
needed more. So, we turned to Facebook. We created a page, seeking
donations, and the response has been overwhelming. In the last three
days, we have received Rs 1.2 lakh from friends all over the globe,
with contributions varying from Rs 50 to $1000. And they are willing
to contribute more," the young bureaucrat said. "The villagers, too,
have contributed as per their capabilities: some are providing food
and accommodation for the workers; some are supplying fuel for the
earthmovers. They have also provided manpower for the project. We
did not have to engage a contractor with so many people volunteering
to shoulder that responsibility," he added.
Donation centres have been set up in Delhi, Pune, Bangalore,
Chennai, Guwahati, Shillong and Dimapur and NRIs from Canada, USA
and the UK have been sending their contributions for the project
christened as Tamenglong-Haflong Road. A monolith will be erected
once the road is completed and names of all donors will be
road will form a tri-junction with Nagaland and Assam over the Jiri
River before entering the Dima Hasao district (formerly North Cachar
Hills district) of Assam. Construction began in August this year,
but stopped midway due to the rains. It resumed in September, and so
far, work on 70km has been completed.