Despite the All-Naga Students’ Association, Manipur, and the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) suspending their blockade of National Highways 39 and 53, normal road transport to Manipur is yet to resume. For, the Transporters and Drivers Council of Manipur (TDC) is sticking to its decision not to ply on NH 39, between Imhal and Dimapur, and a large number of trucks bound for Imphal through NH 53 are stranded owing to heavy landslips.
The TDC is insisting on an assurance from the Nagaland government and the Centre of compensation for the damage caused to vehicles during the prolonged economic blockade. They also want an undertaking from authorities that illegal taxes allegedly being collected by underground groups and other organisations in Nagaland from vehicles plying on NH 39 will be stopped.
On Saturday, supporters of the apex council caused damaged two trucks for defying the TDC decision. A functionary claimed that since the suspension of the blockade only eight trucks, including the two damaged ones, had reached Imphal under police escort.
Meanwhile, the Public Works Department and the Border Roads Organisation are working on a war-footing to clear the debris from the landslip on NH 53 and make way for vehicles.
Just 45 trucks from Assam’s Silchar and Jiribam trickled into Imphal though this highway on Monday
Manipur government spokesman and Cabinet Minister N. Biren told The Hindu that overall the supply situation had not improved despite the suspension of the blockade. The government would continue to persuade the TDC to allow vehicles to ply on NH 39 so that the acute scarcity of food grains, medicines, fuel and fertilizers, caused by the 67-day siege, could be overcome.
Thanking the people of Manipur, the Minister said those from both the hills and the valley “skipped meals days for together but never lost their patience despite the crisis situation because they want to live together and protect the territorial integrity of Manipur.”
Mr. Biren said the Centre agreed in principle to the government’s proposal to raise a special force to keep the national highway free from blockades and ensure protection of vehicles.