Imphal, Nov 24 Will the 10-day International Sangai Tourism Festival which began here on Monday prove to be a damp squib due to demonetisation and other problems? That the question is haunting both officials and participants.
Officials said on Thursday that only a few visitors have come to the festival so far in contrast to heavy rush every year. Indian entrepreneurs as well as those coming from Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia said this time their sales will be slashed by 50 per cent as compared to last year.
"This may be the adverse impact of the demonetisation. Some of us had announced that demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes will be accepted. But this failed to impress the people since in the absence of Rs 100 notes and lesser value currencies, they have to spend the entire amounts," said one of the Indian participants.
Besides demonetisation, there was a boycott of the festival by some armed rebel groups. One stall-holder said: "The indefinite economic blockade imposed by the Nagas from November 1 has paralysed the state economy. This has deterred the people from visiting the tourism festival."
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has stated that Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh has not put forth any concrete proposals to end the blockade, but Ibobi Singh has denied the claim. Talks between the representatives of the United Naga Council and the central government did not yield any results.
Meanwhile, at least two loaded trucks were torched by the UNC activists along the National Highway Nos. 2 and 37. Hundreds of loaded trucks were stranded along the highways. Armed paramilitary personnel have been able to escort trucks and oil tankers thrice from Assam so far.
Fuel, consumer items and life saving drugs are at low stock in the state. Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam asked the people to be prepared to face the blockade and shortages for some more time.