July 15 proved to be an unfortunate day for the entire N Gamnom village in Manipur when a 27 year old Thangtinlal Baite despite the collective efforts put in by a lot of people, couldn’t be saved from dying. India is a land of diversity. It is a country where there have been several instances of using bullock carts to bicycles, handcarts to even shoulders as ambulances due to lack of proper healthcare services in past. And in a similar shameful but a total bizarre incident, Thangtinlal breathed his last in a JCB excavator on way to the nearest hospital on the Indian-Myanmar borders last Saturday.
What’s even more saddening is the fact that Lamthang Baite, the father of the deceased first had to arrange an excavator that is used for digging land from the nearest construction site and then had to head for the Khampat Hospital in Myanmar because of the deplorable healthcare facilities available in that region.
With a total population of 230 people, N Gamnom falls in the border areas of India and Myanmar. The nearest town Sugnu is at a distance of 44 km. The nearest possible hospital is 46 km away in Chakpikarong Tehsil, which is the sub-district headquarter and the district headquarters Chandel, is as far as 69 km away from the village. In 2006, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj had named Chandel as one of the country’s 250 most backward districts out of a total of 640.
Lacking basic medical facilities
The locals allege the district to be not just backward but also disregarded. There is no proper medical and healthcare facility in the area. The hospital in Chakpikarong has no staffs and the people have to often go to Moreh district for basic treatments which is the commercial hub of the state.
‘Ironically, people in Moreh have to go to Tamu in Myanmar for medical treatments because the Moreh hospital is almost in a nonfunctional state. Just imagine in the case of emergency, say in the middle of the night, if a person needs medical attention how worse the situation can get. Passing through the international borders may get impossible at night and patient will be then just watched and waited till the dawn or till they die’ says Haokip Minthang, who is from the region but resides in Delhi.
Michael Lamjathang Haokip who also hails from the region and brought the incident to public notice, says ‘This is certainly not the first case of this manner. There have been many similar incidents earlier which have gone unnoticed and unreported.’ He further took to Facebook where he asks three basic questions to the CM of Manipur, Mr Biren Singh. ‘First of all, why do people have to head towards Myanmar for basic amenities like the hospital? Two, does Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana really works in areas like these which still are disconnected from their district/state headquarters? And lastly, what happens to the Border Area Development Programme Funds actually?’ he asks.
The 27 year old Thangtinlal, in front of his father, failed to withstand the arduous journey on a JCB tractor turned ambulance, with his life.
Words- Pritesh Gupta