Parts of northeast cut off as Meghalaya blockade continues

Agartala : The northeastern states of Tripura, Mizoram, parts of Manipur and southern Assam remained cut off from the rest of India for the fourth day Friday following a blockade of the National Highway (NH) No.6 in Meghalaya, official said here.

The NH-6 (formerly known as NH 44) serves as the lifeline for mountainous Tripura, Mizoram, southern Assam (known as Barak Valley) and western Manipur.

Support TwoCircles

For carrying goods, food grain, essentials and other materials from other parts of the country, the NH-6 is very vital for southern Assam’s four districts, land-locked Tripura, Mizoram and parts of Manipur. The highway starts from Guwahati and passes through Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district.

The Movement for Indigenous People’s Rights and Livelihood, a non-governmental organisation in Meghalaya, has called for an indefinite “economic blockade” from Sep 23 against a ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on unscientific coal and sand mining in the state.

“Tripura chief secretary G. Kameswara Rao Thursday talked to his Meghalaya counterpart P.B.O. Warjri over phone and requested him to urgently intervene in the matter to restore the normal plying of vehicles along the National Highway,” a senior Tripura transport department official told IANS.

He said: “Thousands of southern Assam, Tripura, Mizoram and western Manipur bound goods-laden trucks, passenger buses, small cars and other vehicles have been stranded in different places of NH 6 in Meghalaya. The agitators also attacked and damaged some vehicles.”

Two people, including a woman, were killed and five people injured Wednesday in Mookhep area in East Jaintia Hills when police opened fire to disperse a mob that put up the road blockade.

“The NH 6 blockade would further affect the scarcity of essentials and food grain in Tripura, Mizoram, southern Assam and western Manipur due to monsoon related transportation difficulties,” the official said.

The official said huge landslides on the NH 6 at Tansen, 50 km south of Shillong in Meghalaya, caused by heavy rain of the past few days, also blocked the movement of vehicles along the highway. However, personnel of the Border Roads Organisation have been working round-the-clock to clear the debris from the highway.

Following a public interest litigation filed by an NGO of Meghalaya, the National Green Tribunal in April imposed a ban on unscientific coal and sand mining in the northeastern state.

The NH 6 blockade was launched ahead of stoppage of train services from Oct 1 in Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram and four districts of southern Assam for gauge conversion work by the Northeast Frontier Railway.

The rail link to the region would be snapped for more than a year to facilitate the gauge conversion work.

Tripura Transport Minister Manik Dey said the stoppage of train services would further affect the movement of food grain and essential commodities from other parts of the country to Tripura, Mizoram, southern Assam and parts of Manipur.