The Centre today reviewed the supply of essential commodities to Manipur where normal life was badly affected due to a 80-day long economic blockade of a key highway. An inter-ministerial meeting, chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and attended by Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, reviewed the stock of foodgrains and petroleum products in Manipur and how to replenish the supply. Top officials, including Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, briefed the meeting about the prevailing situation in the northeastern state and steps taken to improve the supply position, official sources said.
Prices of all commodities, especially foodgrains, have skyrocketed while petrol, diesel and LPG cylinders are being sold at high prices in blackmarkets, raising serious concerns in the central government, they said. Since November 1, the United Naga Council has imposed the economic blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH-37 (Imphal-Jiribam) that serve as lifelines for the landlocked Manipur.
While NH-37 was partially reopened, there is no traffic movement on NH-2.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has been making repeated efforts to find a way to have the NH-2 opened. On November 15, 2016, tripartite talks with government of Manipur and United Naga Council were called at New Delhi to discuss the economic blockade, which were not attended by Government of Manipur.
On December 22, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had written to Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh asking him to discharge his Constitutional obligations of keeping the National Highways open and ensuring supplies of essential commodities.
Last Wednesday, Singh told the Chief Minister that despite repeated efforts of the Ministry, nothing substantive appeared to have been done to remove the economic blockade and expressed grave concern over the continued blockade of NH-2 causing severe difficulties to the people, especially with regard to availability of essential commodities.
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The Home Minister had made it clear to the Manipur Chief Minister that if the Manipur government fails in its Constitutional duties, government of India may have to explore other measures under the provisions of Constitution of India to ensure that difficulties of local people are alleviated. Singh had conveyed to him that continued blockade of NH-2 is likely to adversely affect democratic process in the forthcoming elections by hampering movement of the people, including the election officials. Election to 60-member Manipur assembly will be held on March 4 and 8.