New Delhi, Aug.19 (ANI): Union Home Minister P.Chidambaram on Thursday said that all measures were being taken to ensure that essential commodities were available in adequate quantities in all parts of Manipur.
Speaking in the Lok Sabha on the situation arising out of the economic blockade imposed by the Naga organisations on the National Highways Nos.39 and 53 in Manipur, the Home Minister said, "The Ministries concerned are monitoring the situation on a daily basis and will take necessary steps to maintain adequate stocks of food grains, POL and other essential commodities in Manipur."
Mr. Chidambarm informed the House that the Cabinet Secretary is regularly taking stock of the situation in the meeting of the Committee of Secretaries.
Stating that an inter-Ministerial team led by the Secretary (Border Management), Ministry of Home Affairs visited Assam and Manipur on July 30 and August 1, 2010 to ensure that adequate arrangements for smooth flow of food grains and petroleum products are put in place, Mr. Chidambaram said: "It was decided that trucks would be requisitioned by the State Governments and payments would be made by FCI at the rates fixed by the State Government concerned."
He also informed that the arrangements for transportation of food grains through NH-39 and NH-53 under escort have become operational.
Stating that the transportation of food grains to Jiribam by Railways has also commenced, Mr. Chidambaram informed that considering that the condition of NH-53 which links Imphal to Silchar via Jiribam is poor, the stretches being single-laned and extremely prone to landslides, Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has been directed to take all measures to keep both NH-39 and NH-53 open for traffic so that transportation of essential commodities do not get disrupted.
Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has made an additional provision of Rs.10 crore for the repairs of NH-53, he added.
The Minister also said that 71 tankers of POL, 207 tankers of Diesel, 10 tankers of Kerosene, 7 tankers of ATF, 78 bullets of LPG, 120 trucks of food grains, 14 trucks of medicine and 6 trucks of cement have reached Imphal through NH 39 under CRPF escort between August 4 to August 17, 2010.
Besides, 32 oil tankers, 20 trucks of food grains and 8 trucks of medicine are standing by near Kohima along NH 39 waiting for stretches affected by landslides and sinking of roads to be cleared, he added.
The Home Minister said: "In view of the improving stock position of POL products, State Government has revoked its earlier order of rationing of POL products and has permitted open sale of petrol and diesel through retail outlets/petrol pumps with effect from August 11, 2010."
Mr. Chidambaram in an elaborate statement in Lok Sabha informed that the first phase of the economic blockade of National Highways No. 39 started from April 6, 2010 and of NH 53 from April 11, 2010 on the call of United Naga Council (UNC) and other Naga bodies of Manipur protesting against the holding of elections to the six Autonomous District Councils in the State of Manipur. Subsequently, other Naga groups joined the blockade.
"As movement along NH-39 was hampered, limited quantities of essential commodities, including petroleum products and food grains were transported through other routes. Indian Air Force airlifted 493 quintals of rice from Guwahati by 11 sorties in May 2010," said Mr. Chidambaram and added: " 42.8 MT of life saving drugs was airlifted by Logistic Post Cargo and IAF aircraft. 80 KL of POL products were also airlifted between May 21-22, 2010."
He informed that since the Naga bodies had also declared blockade of NH-53, the State Government had initially arranged transportation of essential commodities, with assistance from Government of Mizoram, through the very long and circuitous NH-150, Silchar-Aizawl-Churachandpur-Imphal.
"The State Government started movement of essential commodities including rice and sugar through NH-53 since May 22, 2010," Mr. Chidambaram said.
The leaders of the Nagaland Students Federation (NSF), after their meeting with the Union Home Minister and the Prime Minister, withdrew their agitation and lifted the blockade on June 15, 2010.
The Home Minister informed that the Central Government made available additional Coys of Central Para Military Forces to the State Governments of Manipur and Nagaland.
"The blockade was finally lifted on June 18, 2010," he said.
Stating further, Mr. Chidambaram told the House that the shortage of essential commodities continued in Manipur due to the decision of the Transporters' and Drivers' Council, Manipur that they would not ply trucks/public carriers/oil tankers/buses and any public vehicles on NH-39 passing through the State of Nagaland, unless their pre-conditions were met.
The United Naga Council of Manipur (UNC) sent a memorandum dated July 27, 2010 seeking action on their demands failing which they would resume the blockade with effect from the first week of August 2010.
"Chief Minister, Manipur, organized a round table of talks with representatives of Naga bodies/academicians, etc for discussing the amendments to the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971. The first round table was held on August 3, 2010 at Imphal and the second on August 7, 2010 at Senapati, in which representatives of the Central Government also participated," he informed and added that the round table talks were, however, not attended by the representatives of the Nagas.
In view of the call for resumption of economic blockade, additional 12 coys of Central Para Military Forces were made available to the State Government of Manipur. In addition, 2 Coys of CRPF have been made available for escorting to and fro movement of trucks/tankers along NH-39 from Dimapur to Imphal.(ANI)