Railway services, food supply hit in parts of northeast

June 23rd, 2008 - 8:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Agartala, June 23 (IANS) The supply of essential items, including food grain, was sevrely affected in the three northeastern states of Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur and parts of Assam due to disruption of railway services in the region for one and a half months, officials said here Monday. “The Tripura government has asked the Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) to regularise the railway services in the region as the supply of essential and other commodities might be further affected during the monsoon,” said Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar.

The NFR has suspended railway services that pass through Assam’s North Cachar Hills district from May 12 after militants killed 13 workers and kidnapped an engineer earlier last month. Railway construction firms also stopped their works due to the militancy in southern Assam.

“The NFR resumed only the goods train services during the day time in the region earlier this month, but that was very irregular,” a senior official said.

“Passenger train services are yet to be restored in southern Assam connecting Tripura, Mizoram and parts of Manipur and until the improvement of the security scenario, the railway services in the region cannot be regularised,” said NFR spokesman Samir Goswami.

“Consultations are on with authorities to arrange adequate security to resume the full-fledged train services linking southern Assam, Tripura and adjoining areas at the earliest,” Goswami told IANS by phone from Guwahati.

“In view of the monsoon, creation of buffer stocks of food is extremely urgent and rail is the main mode of transportation of food grain to Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram and Barrak Valley region of Assam,” said Tripura Food and Transport Minister Manik Dey.

According to the minister, an unprecedented scarcity of construction material, which are mostly transported by the railways in the region, also badly affected public and private construction works.

He said the Tripura government had urged the central government and the Assam government to take appropriate measures to resume at the earliest the rail services and construction works in this mountainous region.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has directed railway authorities to ensure movement of at least essential goods in the region.

“The PMO, in consultation with the union food and civil supplies ministry, has asked the NFR to ensure supply of at least 3,500 tonnes of food grains and other essentials in the Lumding-Badarpur section of southern Assam every day to make sure that Barak Valley, Mizoram, Tripura and parts of Manipur do not face scarcity of vital commodities,” a senior official said on condition of anonymity.

M.K. Gogoi, a senior official of Food Corporation of India (FCI), said: “We are trying our best to maintain the regular supply of food grains either through train or by road in the affected region.”

In view of the inadequate supply of essentials and construction materials from outside the states and the rising inflation, prices of essential items have escalated in Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and southern Assam.

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