Road blockade causes crisis of essential goods in Manipur


Imphal: Over weeklong road blockades by tribal students of two vital national highways that are the lifelines of the state have created a severe crisis of essential goods and transport fuel in the northwestern state of Manipur, officials here admitted Wednesday.

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The tribal student and youth organisation – All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (ANSAM) — has put up the blockade along the Imphal-Dimapur and the Imphal-Jiribam national highways, the two lifelines of the state, since April 14.

They were protesting the state government’s decision to hold elections to the six Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) May 17 and May 24 on the basis of an amended legislation that governs the councils.

The tribals, mostly from Naga tribes, have been demanding more financial and administrative powers for the ADCs.

“While the normal supply of essential commodities from outside the state is being disrupted, the transport fuel outlets have also run dry,” senior food and civil supplies department official Tarunjit Singh told reporters.

“Senior civil and police officers are holding talks with agitating tribals to withdraw the road blockade, but the agitators are adamant to continue their stir until their demand is met,” he said.

Essential commodities are unavailable and prices of vital items are rising much higher than the normal rates across the state.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister Yumkham Erabot Singh said the government was planning to issue diesel and petrol through the rationing system.

“We are monitoring the situation. If it gets worse, we would provide fuel through the rationing method,” he said.

“Hundreds of trucks carrying essential commodities and fuel tankers, coming from different parts of the country, have been stranded on national highways 39 and 53 due to the blockades,” a police officer said in Imphal.

Meanwhile, the 96-day-old strike by government employees further affected life in the state.

The employees struck work Jan 16, demanding full implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations. The Joint Administrative Council of Employees Organisations (JACEO), the apex body of the employees, has been spearheading the strike across the state.