Succour drops from the sky; Eight cargo planes bring in 40 tonnes of essential commodities
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, August 06: Following the assurances of Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil on the floor of the Lok Sabha two days back that essential commodities would be air lifted to help the people cope with the crippling economic blockade, four cargo planes carrying 40 tonnes of essential commodities landed at the Tulihal airport from Guwahati today morning.

Each plane took two sorties each to transport the 40 tonnes of essential commodities.

The planes belonging to the Indian Air Force were pressed into service at the instructions of the Union Home Ministry through the DG of Assam Rifles.

The commodities transported by four AN-32 cargo planes included 20 tonnes of sugar, ten tonnes of lentils, ten tonnes of edible oil and life saving drugs.

The cargo planes touched down at the Tulihal airport today at 9.30 am and the goods were then loaded onto trucks of the Food and Civil Supplies Department and were later taken to the FCS godown at Sangaiprou.

A well placed source said that the air shipment today is not the final adding that essential goods will be air lifted regularly by the Indian Air Force till such time that the State has enough stock of essential commodities to last a month.

Speaking to the press, FCS Director, Ph Ratan said that the four cargo planes of the Indian Air Force lifted the essential commodities from Guwahati at the instructions of the Union Home Ministry through the DG of Assam Rifles.

The goods will be kept at the FCS godown for the moment, said the Director and added that the same will be allotted to the respective DCs to be distributed to the people later.

To a question from the media, the Director said that this is the first time that essential commodities have been air lifted to Manipur.

The Director also admitted that he does not have any idea whether there will be any such exercise in the future or not.

Ratan also said that he does not know when the next consignments will arrive.

Each cargo plane could cary five tons of goods per flight.

Each of the four plane had to sortie twice to take the total weight of the goods transported to 40 tonnes today.

Following today's exercise, the Indian Air Force and the Food Corporation of India have agreed to co-operate and help each other out.

Meanwhile, an official source informed that ever since the economic blockade was enforced, not a single grain of rice or sugar has been lifted from the FCI godown at Dimapur.

This is because an underground outfit had demanded a sum of Rs 10 lakhs from the godown, added the source.

The official source added that 50 FCI trucks loaded with rice and other items are expected to reach Imphal tomorrow from Guwahati.

The Executive Director of FCI, New Delhi; Senior Regional Manager, FCI, Dimapur and the Regional Manager visited Imphal a few days back, said the source and added that the main purpose of the visit was to discuss the possibility of lifting the State's share from the FCI godown at Silchar instead of Dimapur.