Central team arrives; Starts assessing goods scarcity situation in Manipur
Assures fund for National Highway 53 development
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, July 31 2010: A high level official team of the Centre comprising joints secretaries of various ministries and top officials of Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), arrived in Imphal today to assess state's situation created by artificial scarcity of essential goods due to uncertainty on the highways in the state, agreed to release funds for improving the NH-53 .

The visiting team agreed to release around Rs 32 crore immediately for taking up improvement works of the NH-53 on war footing, said a minister who attained a meeting with the visiting team at the conference hall of the Old Secretariat block.

The high level team 13 officials of Central government led by Union Secretary of Border Management, AE Ahmad arrived here at about 9.15 am by flight.

Other team members included joint secretary North East in-charge Navin Verma, FCI officials Siraj (CMDI), Dr Amar Singh (executive director-transport), Dr AK Raj (executive director NE in-charge), officials of IOC, joint secretary (market), Apurvachandra, General Manager A Pandiyan, Chief (ops) Manager, LN Phukan, officials of railways Dr RS Sukhala (FW) and NK Sachan (CFND NF RLW), Executive Engineer SE Madal of Ministry of Road, PET & HW and Dr Davindra P/S to Sanda director of PMO.

The team as soon as arrived at the state capital convened a meeting with the top officials of the state government, security establishments and police before another round of meeting was held with Chief Minister at his office bungalow.

Ministers also attended the meeting, official source said.

Among others the state officials included Chief Secretary DS Poonia, DGP, Y Joykumar, GOC 57 Mountain Division, IG of CRP, commissioner of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, transport commissioner, manager of IOC, Imphal, director of health services, chief engineer of PWD, FCI Imphal director and two commandant of BRTF.

In the meeting, state officials convinced the visiting Central official on the acute shortage of foods and petroleum products most importantly.

They also submitted a proposal for implementing a strategy for procurement of goods in the state.

The meeting with the Chief Minister also, he reportedly handed over some documents related with the collection of various forms of "illegal tax" by the cadres of the NSCN (IM) on the Imphal-Dimapur section of the NH-39 to the visiting team.

Representatives of the Transporters' and Drivers' Council were also allowed to take part in the meeting.

Members of the TDC also aired grievances facing by the drivers and truckers on plying the NH-39 .

After hearing the complaints poured down by them, the visiting team urged the TDC to withdraw their stand not to use the NH-39 giving assurance that Centre will provide adequate security to deploy on the stretch of the highway for their security.

However, TDC turned down the appeal of the Central team reiterating that when Manipur trucks were burnt down by miscreants in Nagaland, not a single individual come out and help in dousing the fire.

Drivers are harassing frequently.

They also reportedly conveyed that many drivers and handymen were kidnapped by cadres of NSCN (IM) for extortion.

Some of kidnapped drivers and handymen are still missing.

Despite the utmost grievances facing by the drivers and truckers, Nagaland government had not taken up any step for the security of the truckers.

They also clarified that they had not decided to stop plying on the NH-39 but wanted a full proof security to them and arrangement of alternative route (NH-59) for using when there comes up disturbances on the NH-39 .

The team is visiting the state as a fall out of the recent appraisal of the Chief Minister, O Ibobi Singh to the Centre about the state of situation prevailing in the state during the meeting of the National Development Council held at New Delhi under the chair of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohon Singh.

The state is experiencing unusual soaring up of prices of goods due to the prolonged disturbances on the two national highways, NH-39 and NH-53.While the normal ferry of goods on the NH-39 which remained disturbed for the last nearly four months is not resuming till date and due to badly deteriorated condition of the NH-53, goods are not coming into the state regularly.

The prices of essential of goods, hiked during the 68-day long economic blockade imposed by ANSAM, are yet to roll back as only few trucks move on NH-39 due to restriction imposed by the Drivers' and Transporters' Council (TDC).

For example, petrol which cost only Rs 51 per liter is available in the grey market at Rs 75 to Rs 80 while the diesel at Rs 60 to 65 as petrol filling stations remained closed.

Cooking gas is also costing from Rs 1000 to 1200 per refilled cylinder.

Likewise the price of the rice (Rs 24 to 28 a kg) and other which were soared up during the prolonged economic are yet to come down to the normal rate even though they are available in the local market allegedly procured secretly by the truckers on the NH-39 or bought from Senapati and Kangpokpi by the businessmen.