Prices soar in blockade-hit Manipur

CM Okram Ibobi Singh met PM Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram in New Delhi last week and discussed the blockade impasse with them.

Updated: Oct 23, 2011, 11:41 AM IST

Imphal: The economic blockade in Manipur demanding a separate district entered the 84th day on Sunday, even as it has led to sky rocketing prices of various commodities, officials said.

The blockade which began Aug 1, on two arterial national highways (NH) in northern Manipur, has led to an unrivalled crisis of essentials commodities. Prices have shot up three to four times, according to officials.

"The chief minister and Governor Gurbachan Jagat have repeatedly urged the agitators to withdraw the blockade," a government official told reporters here Saturday.

The Sadar Hills District Demand Committee (SHDDC) began the indefinite road blockade on NH 53 and NH 39 that links the northeastern state with the rest of the country. They are demanding that the Sadar Hills sub-division in the Naga-dominated Senapati district in northern Manipur be upgraded as a full-fledged district.

Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram in New Delhi last week and discussed the blockade impasse with them.

"But the SHDDC refused to call off the blockade reiterating their demand that the district should be created first," the official added.

Government spokesman and Minister N Biren Singh admitted that the blockade has created a severe shortage of essential commodities, including diesel and petrol.

People have to wait in long queues in front of petrol pumps, sometimes for an entire day, to buy a few litres of fuel, he said.

Currently, a kg of potato costs Rs 40 to Rs 50 while a kg of onions is Rs 60 to Rs 70.

Biren Singh told reporters that the government was trying to move essentials and fuel through trucks with security escorts.

"Several hundred trucks loaded with essentials and oil tankers are on way to Imphal," the minister added.

The United Naga Council, the apex body of Nagas in Manipur, has also been organising a counter road blockade in all Naga-inhabited areas in northern Manipur, demanding that these areas should not be carved out without their consent.

The main opposition parties including Manipur People`s Party (MPP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been demanding President`s rule in the state to normalise the situation.

The parties have been organising sit-ins here.

"Party leaders met Governor Gurbachan Jagat several times seeking his intervention to get the blockade lifted in view of the suffering of people. But the governor has remained silent on the critical situation," MPP president Nimaichand Luwang said.

A team of senior BJP leaders led by party president Nitin Gadkari and senior leader Sushma Swaraj Friday met the Prime Minister in New Delhi and urged him to intervene in the issue.

Blockade supporters torched at least 35 Imphal-bound trucks, including two carrying medicines, at Nungkao village in the hill district of Tamenlong, 215 km west of Imphal, a food department official said.

The Sadar Hills issue has remained unresolved since 1982.

The election for the 60-member Manipur Assembly is expected to be held February next year as the term of the Assembly ends March 15.

IANS