TODAY -

Centre to crack whip if UNC calls blockade
Source: The Sangai Express / Seven Sisters Post

New Delhi, December 23, 2011: The Centre will come down heavily on the United Naga Council (UNC) if the latter tries another economic blockade on the two National Highways connecting Manipur with the rest of the country, said a Union Home Ministry official.

The Ministry's joint secretary for Northeast Shambhu Singh told the Seven Sisters Post that the Centre cannot risk an ethnic conflagration that the UNC is perhaps trying to provoke.

"UNC's deliberate actions are provoking the other communities and groups in the society.

It is not a healthy sign.

UNC, if at all, is a civil society organisation, it should be desisting from taking any steps that are not in the interest of the country's economy," Singh said.

Referring to the just concluded 121-day economic blockade and the earlier 68-day blockade on the National Highways in Manipur, Singh wondered, how the UNC has gained from the intolerable sufferings of the common people.

When asked about the temporary withdrawal of the blockade by the UNC, Singh reacted furiously; "We are not sure what they call temporary, what they call permanent or what they call intermittent.

At the drop of a hat, they organise a blockade.

Given their past actions, we always consider their blockade withdrawal as temporary".



A tunnel being dug for laying the rail track
National Highway 37


Asked if the Government is contemplating any effective action this time to keep the highways undisturbed and open, Singh said: "So far, we have been avoiding any action.

But this time, if they disturb the highways and cause obstruction to the smooth movement of essential commodities, Government will not remain a silent spectator".

Significantly, the UNC has already asked the railway and roadways construction workers in Manipur to stay away from construction work on National Highway 37, connecting Imphal with Jiribam bordering Assam and the Railways from Jiribam to Imphal.

The upgradation work on NH 37 scheduled to be completed by March 2013 has been undertaken by the Border Roads Organisation at a cost of Rs 225 crores.

This alternative highway project is undertaken to ensure smooth movement of essential commodities into Manipur, if the UNC organises blockade on National Highway 2 which passes through Nagaland.

Similarly the Government has expedited the 98-Kms broad gauge railway line construction work from Jiribam to Imphal via Tupul at a cost of Rs 3,056.85 crores.

The Railway's target is to complete the Jiribam-Tupul stretch March 2014, and the work up to Imphal by march 2016. A top railway official told Seven Sisters Post that due to frequent bandhs, no movement of heavy machinery and material through the highways is possible and the problem is further compounded by extortion and abduction threats.

Till February, the department could spend only Rs 328.32 crores.

Land acquisition performance was only 57 per cent of the target, earth work only 37 per cent and minor bridges just 31 per cent, the official said, quoting a latest performance report.


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