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NH blockade hits rice supply

Imphal, June 28: An indefinite economic blockade imposed along two national highways by the Manipur Forward Youth Front has dislocated supply of essential commodities to the state.

The front imposed an indefinite blockade along National Highway 39 (Imphal-Kohima) and National Highway 53 (Imphal-Jiribam), the two lifelines of Manipur, since June 11 in protest against detention of its president Sapamcha Kangleipal under the National Security Act.

Kangleipal was put under detention on May 13 after he severely criticised the Okram Ibobi Singh government’s policy to arm people of Heirok for protection from militant groups. The front is demanding his release.

While other essential items continue to trickle in with security escorts, the blockade has severely affected transportation of public distribution system (PDS) items.

Officials of the food and civil supplies department confirmed that ration stocks, particularly rice, , was running out fast.

Commissioner of the civil supplies department S. Budhachandra Singh said, “The stock of rice at the department’s godowns has been reduced to only 200 metric tonnes,” he said.

Though the exact figure of the present stock levels of sugar and kerosene is not available, officials of the department said these were also running low.

The main supply route for the PDS items passes through Senapati and Imphal West districts.

Singh said because of an economic blockade imposed on the two supply routes by the All Tribal Students Union, Manipur for 21 days earlier this year, the supply of rice, sugar and kerosene had been disrupted.

“However, the supply for the month of May could be transported from Food Corporation of India godown in Dimapur with security escorts. The ongoing blockade has disrupted the supply for the month of June,” Singh said.

However, superintendent of police of Senapati district Nishit K. Ujwal said the blockade had no impact in the district and supply trucks were being escorted whenever required.

The main supply route for the PDS items passes through Senapati and Imphal West districts. Official sources here said security along the highway was tight and till date no untoward incident relating to the blockade has been reported.

Sources said while supplies of other essential commodities continued to come with security escorts, rice transporters were unwilling to continue the supply even though the government had offered security escorts.

“If anything untoward happens, we will end up being the losers. If my loaded truck is burnt, I will have to buy the rice again from my own pocket. So I don’t want to take the risk,” a transporter said.

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