Hill districts facing major brunt of eco-blockade
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, May 14 2010: The impact of the prolonged economic blockade being imposed on both NH-39 and NH-53 by the All Naga Students' Association, Manipur (ANSAM) is now no longer confined to the valley districts.

Hill districts too are in dire straits on account of the blockade.

Some of the hill districts are suffering more than the valley districts.

Deputy Commissioners concerned and Army authorities have reportedly submitted official report to the State Government that Chandel and Tamenglong districts are facing acute food shortage.

An official source said that among the two districts, Tamenglong's condition is critical as supply of food items through the national Highways had ceased after economic blockade was imposed on the lifelines of the State.

Moreover, attempt to lift food items from the Jiribam godown of Consumers Affairs, Food and Public Distribution for Tamenglong district with army escort failed as women activists of Jiribam subdivision enforced a counter-blockade.

The source also revealed that a plan has been worked out to lift food items for Tamenglong district from the Sangaiprou godown with State security forces supposed to provide escort upto Keithelmanbi from where the Army would be utilised to ensure that the consignment reaches the district.

Some of the hill districts are facing a severe crisis of scarcity of rice or complete unavailability of the staple food item.

Of the five hill districts, Tamenglong and Chandel are the worst affected.

One kilogram of local variety of rice now costs Rs around Rs 100 at Tamenglong district headquarters and Rs 50 in Chandel district.

In addition to these unimaginable prices, rice is no longer available readily in these districts.

Many of the shops doing business at Chandel district headquarters have already downed their shutters as their stocks have run out with no fresh supplies arriving.

One Kinderson Pamei of Tamenglong Hqs Ward No I, informed The Sangai Express that the people of Tamenglong are facing unprecedented crisis due to the prolonged economic blockade on NH-39 and NH-53 .

Rice imported from outside Manipur are no longer available at the district headquarters.

It is not only rice, other essential commodities like cereals, dals, petroleum products etc have disappeared from the markets many days back.

Bus service between Imphal and Tamenglong district Hqs has also ceased, Kinderson Pamei said.

He said that almost 99 per cent of people's requirements in Tamenglong district were brought from Imphal.

Even spices were brought from Imphal.

As such, the people are enduring untold miseries consequent upon the prolonged economic blockade.

The situation is no better in Chandel district.

Secretary of the Weaker Section Development Council Chandel, Sangleida said that food items and many essential items were not available in markets.

Already, many shops in Chandel district headquarters have pull downed their shutters as their stocks have completely run out.

While all non-local varieties of rice have disappeared, the price of local varieties of rice has shot up to Rs 50 per kilogram.

Those having some stocks of rice are also reluctant to sell out rice as it remains still unclear how long the blockade would continue.

Many civil societies of Chandel including the Weaker Section Development Council, Chandel have even approached the army to provide rice, kerosene, candle, dals etc.

Talking to this paper, convenor of the District Women Committee Ukhrul of the United NGOs Mission Manipur, Jayenti Keishing said that no food items were brought to Ukhrul district from Imphal.

At present, one kilogram of Super Fine rice costs Rs 25 at Ukhrul.

Prices of other commodities have also shot up.

Bus service between Imphal and Ukhrul district Hqs has been suspended since May 6.As such, newspapers based at Imphal are no longer available at Ukhrul.

People travelling to Imphal from Ukhrul has to hire a taxi to reach Yaingangpokpi at Rs 250 per trip before boarding a bus there to go to Imphal, Jayenti Keishing said.

Noting that the people of Manipur are facing extreme hardships due to the economic blockade coupled with the turmoil resulting from the ban on Muivah's entry to Manipur, she appealed to the Government to bring a solution to the impasse.

She also expressed desire to resolve the crisis through other means than militarisation.

Senapati district has also started feeling the impact of the blockade.

While most items of daily requirements have become alarmingly scarce in the district, it is reported that one truck load of rice was brought to Senapati district headquarters yesterday.

In Churachandpur district Hqs too, price of Super Fine rice has soared to Rs 50 per Kg.

Notably, transportation of goods along NH 39 and Nh 53 were halted since April 22 because of the economic blockade imposed by ANSAM and the United Naga Council against the scheduled Autonomous District Council elections.

In the initial phase, the State Government provided security escorts to protect the vehicles bringing in goods to Manipur from blockade supporters.

But all kinds of vehicular movement along NH 39 was suspended following the security barricade put up at Mao Gate to prevent entry of Muivah to Manipur and the death of two youngsters in police action to control a crowd on May 6 .