The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lapang battles blockade threat

Shillong, April 15: The D.D. Lapang government will hold a high-level meeting tomorrow to eke out a solution to a problem left unsolved by the erstwhile J.D. Rymbai ministry.

A joint action co-ordination committee of transporters opposing the hike in the cost of high-security registration number plates, had set April 14 as the deadline for the Rymbai government to revise the costs.

Now, the Lapang -led ministry faces a 60-hour road blockade on Tuesday, out of which it must find a solution by tomorrow.

Lapang, who replaced the Rymbai government last month, has so far put up a brave front refusing to buckle under pressure from the transporters who have been opposing the hike in prices of number plates.

The state government has made it mandatory for all vehicle owners in the state to fix high-security registration number plates on their vehicles.

The government has signed an agreement with the Mumbai-based Shimmit Utsch India Private Limited to supply the plates.

The directorate of transport has fixed rates between Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,000 for the number plates. The committee wants the rates to be brought down to Rs 800 and said the price quoted by companies in other states was much lower than in Meghalaya.

Several NGOs like the Civil Society Women’s Organisations and the Hynniewtrep National Youth Front are supporting the committee’s demand.

“We waited for the government to respond but there’s a limit to our patience,” said committee chairman A. Shanpru.

The police have been ordered not to allow disruption of traffic by the protesters.

The road blockade will severely hit transportation of essential commodities entering the state and vegetables coming to Shillong from rural areas.

Tomorrow’s meeting will be attended by officials of the transport department and those in the chief minister’s office. “Representatives of the committee may also be asked to offer suggestions. We will never allow blockades to cripple the state,” an official said.

The state government on Friday had said the implementation of the scheme was “obligatory” and it was only following directives from the central government.

The official statement pointed to a Supreme Court ruling on November 11, 2004, which upheld the Centre’s decision to implement the scheme all over the country.

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