State eyes NH-53 for deliverance
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 16: An emergency State Cabinet meeting convened this morning held extensive discussion on the ongoing economic blockade imposed by ANSAM on both the lifelines of Manipur especial in view of Nagaland- based NGOs announcing support to the agitation.

Acknowledging that NH-39 remains highly vulnerable to attacks from disruptive elements, the Cabinet discussed the possibility of diverting traffic towards NH-53 as the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) authorities had already conveyed that the Imphal-Jiribam route is now pliable, disclosed a senior Cabinet Minister in the O Ibobi Ministry.

However, the National Highway 53 option is subject to concrete assurance from the Nagaland Govt to provide adequate security cover to Manipur truckers.

According to the senior Minister, the State authorities had intimated to the Nagaland Govt for security cover to enable truckers ply on the Nagaland stretch of NH-39.Adding that Manipur Government is prepared to send trucks to transport goods from Assam and other States, the Minister said that a positive reply and assurance from the Nagaland Govt is being awaited without which neither the Govt nor the truckers are willing to take any risk.

Even as the Manipur Government is relying on cooperation from the Nephiu Rio Government, preparation is on to procure goods through NH-53 which had been cleared of disruptive elements by the security personnel and the BRO authorities informing that maintenance work has been finalised.

The Cabinet Minister also informed that the Govt is looking at the possibility of utilising NH-53 from July 19-20 with elaborate security measures in Naga dominated areas of the highway by deploying a CRPF battalion along the route and intensive patrolling by AR men at vulnerable stretches.

Steps have also been taken to man/protect bridges on this route, he said.

asserting that there is enough food-stock despite the economic blockade for nearly a month, the Minister claimed of petrol stock capable to last about nine days at the rate of 35 kilolitres usage per day.

Regarding diesel the Minister put the stock position to last about 13 days at the consumption rate of 100 kilolitres per day while kerosine would last for 20 days.

He also informed of respective DCs being instructed to pull up traders found selling consumer goods at exorbitant rates and penalise the guilty ones under Essential Commodities Act.

Meanwhile, there is report of Tamenglong district villagers voluntarily joining hands with BRTF personnel in developing/repairing of the NH-53 in between Jiribam and Barak.

The volunteer workers numbering around 500 had been assisting the BRTF men since the last forthnight, informed one Thomas Kamei said to be the leader of the labourers' body engaged in the road maintenance work.

Stating that the volunteers belong to Oinamlong, Nungkao, Keimai, Sibilong, Kaiphundai and Phaitoul villages, Thomas said that to complement yeomen service of these volunteers the District Authority has assured to pay remuneration.

Thomas also informed of the road construction work going on in full swing with heavy deployment of security force personnel which include men of 22 Maratha Light Infantry looking after Keimai area, 26 Rajput assigned New Kaiphundai, 9 Para Field Regiment in Old Kai-phundai, 35 AR scanning Oinamlong area and 14 Bn CRPF deployed at Taobung.