NATIONAL

Agents in Manipur refuse to transport fertilizers on NH 39

Extortion by insurgents and other organisations

Iboyaima Laithangbam

IMPHAL: Agents have refused to transport fertilizers from Assam because of increased extortion by insurgents and other organisations in Nagaland and some parts of Assam. The decision comes at a time when farmers have been agitating and demanding fertilizers. They had also declared general strikes.

Reports in a section of the press say that the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Issac-Muivah faction) had increased illegal tax collection from people transporting fertilizers through Nagaland. Manipur's agents have to lift the fertilizers from Assam and come through Nagaland along the NH 39.

A local newspaper, Ireipak, has reproduced a cash receipt allegedly issued by the NSCN (I-M) for Rs. 4,000 collected as tax for the "import and export" of fertilizers. In the past, the NSCN (I-M) used to collect Rs. 2,500 for a truckload of fertilizers. But after 52 days of economic blockade imposed by Naga students, the NSCN (I-M) is reportedly trying to recoup the losses incurred. Other dubious organisations at Karbi Along in Assam and Dimapur in Nagaland have also been collecting taxes.

After adding these illegal taxes, the cost for transporting a truckload is around Rs. 70,000 As a result a bag of fertilizer comes to around Rs. 350 when brought to Imphal.

However, the Manipur Government is asking dealers to sell a bag for Rs. 360.

Agriculture Minister Pheiroijam Parijat is at his wit's end. Farmers are organising protests in front of the Chief Minister's office demanding fertilizers. Coupled with a drought-like situation, a shortage of rice is predicted in the next few months.

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