Road blockade hits life in Manipur

September 19th, 2011 - 3:23 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram Imphal, Sep 19 (IANS) Prices of essentials have shot up two to three times in Manipur as a 50-day-old protest road blockade of crucial national highways in the state is preventing vital goods from reaching the north-eastern state, officials said here Monday.

According to officials here, the Sadar Hills District Demand Committee (SHDDC) began an indefinite road blockade agitation Aug 1 for upgrading Sadar Hills sub-division in the Naga-dominated Senapati district in northern Manipur into a full-fledged district.

The United Naga Council (UNC), the apex body of Nagas in Manipur, has also been organising intermittent protests in all Naga-inhabited areas in northern Manipur, demanding that these areas should not be carved out without their consent.

Blockade supporters have since Saturday torched at least 10 Imphal-bound trucks, including two carrying medicines, at Nungkao village in the hill district of Tamenlong, 215 km west of Imphal, a food department official said.

The torched vehicles were part of a convoy of about 1,000 trucks, which were being escorted by Manipur State Rifles troopers from Jiribam to Imphal.

“Agitators threw petrol bombs on the trucks, destroying six vehicles completely and damaging four partially. The securitymen fired in the air but no injuries were reported,” the official added.

Manipur depends on supplies from outside and trucks carrying essentials and other goods from the rest of India use the national highways (NH 53 and NH 39) passing through Nagaland and Assam.

The official said the blockades have created a severe shortage of essential commodities, including diesel and petrol.

People have to wait in long queues in front of petrol pumps, sometimes for an entire day, to buy a few litres of fuel.

Currently, a kg of potato costs Rs.40 in the market while one kg of onions is Rs.60. Prices of other essential commodities have also shot up to double or triple value as the blockade of key highways continued.

Manipur’s Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution N. Biren Singh told reporters the government was trying to move essentials and fuel through trucks with security escorts.

“Over 1,000 trucks loaded with essentials and oil tankers are on way to Imphal,” the minister added.

The functioning of the Imphal bench of the Gauhati High Court and lower courts has been hit for the past many days after the High Court Bar Association suspended work due to the acute scarcity of fuel.

Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh met union Home Minister P. Chidambaram in New Delhi recently and discussed the situation.

Official sources said the state cabinet headed by Singh had met four to five times in the past one-and-a-half months, but no conclusive decision could be taken on the Sadar Hills issue, which has remained unresolved since 1982.

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