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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

After 100 km Road, Manipur's 'Miracle Man' Has Another Gift For His People

Armstrong Pame is famously known as the IAS officer who built a 100 kilometre road through community initiative, without any active help from the government. 

The now District Collector of Manipur's Tamenglong has yet another maverick plan up his sleeve – opening his house for the children of the district.

Pame has decided to invite 10 students from Class V to X for dinner, every Friday. These selected children will be be given a chance to observe the working of the district administration during post lunch office hours. The students shall be selected school-wise on a rotation basis. 

The circular issued by the officer says, 'they shall be given an opportunity to express their dreams/visions and shall also be asked to express their desire as to how they wish to see the district in future days to come.'

Pame wrote on social media about how he as a child always wondered about what happens inside government buildings. “As a kid I used to walk past the deputy commissioner's building and office... really wanted to see what's there but never got to... now being here as DC let me invite the school kids to share a dinner table with me... hope this will give them a zeal to do well to live their dreams,” he said.

For the work that he has done in the area he is often called the 'Miracle Man' – Pame is the first Indian Administrative Service officer from the Zeme Naga tribe. Based in the hills of Manipur, Tamenglong, his home district, is one of the most backward in the country.

Named after Neil Armstrong, he graduated from St Stephen's College in 2005. But his journey to St Stephen's is no ordinary feat. He was the fifth of eight siblings born in a remote village, had neither electricity, nor proper roads. Thus when he moved back to Tamenglong, as a sub-divisional magistrate of Tousem, he knew the difference a proper road can make. 

It took two days for anyone in the region to make it to the nearest hospital on foot and hundreds of patients had to be carried on makeshift bamboo stretchers. Death often arrived faster than hospitals.

That is when Pame decided to not wait for the government fund and got the community to help build 'People's Road'. The project began in 2012, with him and his family pooling in over Rs 4 lakh. They asked for a help through social media and funds soon started pouring in. 

The first task was to connect the 60-kilometre stretch from Tousem sub-divisional headquarters to the district headquarters. The next part was to connect to the nearest highway running between Nagaland and Assam, and then to a railway station at Mohur (Assam). It involved cutting across hilly terrain to make the road. 

This mammoth task was completed within a year's time.

Apart from this, Pame has been actively associated with various charitable institutions, including orphanages and schools. He is also known to better the quality of the government's services, wherever he has been posted.

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