Imphal Jan 15 (IANS) The Imphal center of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) was deserted on Friday as the athletes left their hostel rooms amid fears of the earthquake-damaged buildings collapsing on them. The SAI complex hostels suffered cracks during the January 4 earthquake, forcing most of the hostellers, comprising mainly women, to leave their homes as the buildings were deemed unsafe. The authorities, however, have started repairing the damaged portions. Several sportspersons who spoke on condition of anonymity said on Friday, “the cracks are covered with some wire mesh, nails and iron rods for plastering. This is not the system since in the case of another earthquake there will be casualties among us”.
The complex was constructed in 2010 ahead of the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. All business activities at the Thangal market in Imphal town have also come to a standstill. Shop owners occupying some portions of Thangal road called a 12-hour general strike on Friday from 5.am in protest against the construction of a temporary market in front of their shops, on either side of the busy road, to accommodate hundreds of women vendors. The women vendors refuse to enter the damaged marketing complexes at Ima market and the state government has built a temporary market on the pavements of Thangal road to accommodate them.
But the shop owners expressed their dissatisfaction as they are crowding the entrance of their shops thereby driving away customers and harming business. The government constructed the temporary market in front of the shops allegedly without consulting the shop owners. H. Bodenkumar, the convener of the Joint Action Committee of the affected shop owners, said on Friday, “it is highly objectionable since the shops will have to remain closed during the repair. In Manipur’s context, it takes several months, if not years, to construct anything. Since the buildings are massive it will take several years”.