The blockade of two national highways in Manipur by Naga groups entered the 55th day on Sunday and the prices of essential commodities remained high. Hundreds of trucks are still stranded.

The All-Naga Students' Association launched the blockade on April 12 to protest against elections to six autonomous district councils in the hills which, it alleged, were given not enough powers to carry out development works. However, the Manipur government has denied the charge.

The blockade, which was intensified after Manipur refused entry to NSCN (I-M) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah on May 3, has throttled the regular supply of essential commodities, pushing the prices up.

A litre of petrol now costs Rs.120-Rs.150, onion Rs.28 a kg and rice Rs. 26. The exorbitant prices apart, many essential items were not available, official sources said. Before the blockade, 300-400 trucks transported the items on the highways 39 and 53 daily.

On May 12, the Manipur government decided to bring hundreds of stranded trucks, loaded with essential items, from Silchar to Imphal, through Jiribam, a distance of 212 km, by providing them with security. However, the authorities used NH 150, from Silchar to Imphal, through Aizawl, a distance of 512 km.

The sources said very few trucks could be brought along this route because the terrain is difficult.