Erabot concedes problems of food/fuel transportation
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 16 2010: Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Y Erabot has conceded that the problems being faced by the people of Manipur with regard to shortage of essential commodities cannot be tackled by the department alone.

Replying to a call attention motion raised by MPP MLA RK Anand at the Assembly today, regarding shortage of essential items and escalating prices, the Minister said owing to dilapidated condition of ImphalJiribam section of NH-53 transportation of essential items takes about 10-11 days.

RK Anand pointed out that even after the end of the economic blockade enforced by ANSAM for over two months along both the NHs, the State is facing shortage of essential items and even if available in the market the same is beyond the reach of the general consumers.

With road like this, which is dubbed a National Highway, transportation problems will be acute

Apart from highlighting absence of police crackdown against sale of petrol in the black market, the Naoriya Pakhanglakpa legislator drew the attention of the Minister that the SPF Government needs to act without further delay to redress the hardships being endured by the public.

In his reply, Y Erabot said food items used to be brought along the Imphal-Dimapur route on NH-39 but FCI transporters refused to ply along this highway stretch after the naga rebel group NSCN (K) served an extortion notice of Rs 50 lakh to the Department resulting in apprehension by the FCI transporters on security reason.

Informing members of the House that monetary demand of the armed outfit had been intimated to the union Home Ministry, the Minister further maintained that transportation of food items from Dimapur had resumed with appointment of contractor/s by the Department before imposition of economic blockade on both the Highways crippled the supply.

He also clarified that Food Corporation of India is responsible for bringing in food supply.

mentioning that FCI and IOC authorities were informed to resume supply of State's foodstock through NH-53, which however failed to materialise in atleast three attempts, due to enforcement of the economic blockade, Erabot said efforts made by the Department finally paid off in bringing the stranded vehicles/trucks on the same route from May 22 onwards.

Stating that along with security cover loaded vehicle convoys from Jiribam have been escorted to Imphal five times, he cited deterioration of NH-53 as the main stumbling block posed to the transporters for it takes about 10-11 days to leave and return with loads to the State capital.

Mentioning that prevailing law and order situation as well as dilapidated condition of the highway stretch has posed a huge challenge to the Department, the Minister suggested constant co-ordination between related departments to address the problems.

with regard to sale of petrol in the black market, the Minister placed before the House that back marketers have several sources to procure the transport fuel and that inspite of his personal involvement in confiscating petrol sold on the roadside the trade could not be effectively put under control.

Erabot further conveyed that a Supreme Court order limiting loads of trucks to only nine tonnes and compliance to the directive in Assam is another factor hampering food-supply of Manipur apart from the transport operators having to spend more in bringing in essential commodities.

Moreover, tackling the food shortage situation could not be fruitful after transporters decided not to ply along Imphal-Dimapur section of NH-39 and condition of NH-53 worsened, he conceded.

mentioned that a Monitoring Committee headed by himself was actually set-up to fix prices of essential items but to no avail as the Committee ceased to function, Erabot conveyed to the House member that Deputy Commissioners have been instructed to prepare price list but there is no feedback from the DCs on the matter.

MLA of Wangkhem A/C K Meghachandra also took part when deliberation of Call Attention Motion ensued.

It is said that the State at present has stock of rice for one month, petrol stock likely to last for six days with same quantity for diesel while kerosine and LPG stocks could continue upto four and three days respectively.