Monday, July 19, 2010

Looking for permanent solution

In a meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai, the Centre has categorically asked Manipur and Nagaland to find a permanent solution to repeated blockades on NH-39 and NH-53.The meeting took note of the fact that the Naga Students’ Federation had blocked the road for nearly two months. It also took note of the Gauhati High Court’s order to the Central Government and the State Governments of Nagaland and Manipur that NH-39 and NH-53 be kept free from all obstructions.All sides reiterated the importance of keeping the National Highways open for movement of goods and people. The Government of India is committed to keeping the NH-39 and NH-53 open.The permanent arrangement of National Highway Protection Force for protecting and keeping open NH-39 would also be put in place, sources said.It has also been decided to deploy at least five companies of Central para-military forces on the NH-39 to thwart any attempt to block it in future.The move comes in the face of the threats by the agitating Nagas that they were temporarily suspending the agitation and may revive it later, if their demands were not met.But even after the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) ‘temporarily’ relaxed the blockade, Manipur bound truckers still felt unsafe to ply on the Dimapur-Imphal NH 39 and continued to travel by the Imphal-Jiribam section of the NH-53.No trucks left for the Imphal from Dimapur along the NH-39 as the economic blockade imposed by the All Naga Students’ Association Manipur (ANSAM) was still in force.“We are not convinced for the undisturbed flow of freight trucks as the economic blockade imposed is still on and there were no assurance from the Nagaland government for safe passage of state vehicles,” a truck driver said.Truckers said miscreants used to prey upon trucks on the Dimapur-Imphal road at any place, threatening and demanding money by taking advantage of the blockade.A driver who did not want to be named said that whenever there was blockade or bandh, miscreants always took advantage in collecting money by accusing drivers of violating the bandh.Truck owners agreed with the view and expressed willingness to stand by the resolution taken by the Transporters and Drivers Council not to ply trucks and inter-state buses along the NH 39 until both Nagaland and Manipur government assured security for safe passage of vehicles on this route.Transporters’ and Drivers’ Council, an apex body of transporters, truck and inter-state bus owners and drivers had on June 11 resolved not to ply on Dimapur-Imphal section of the NH-39 until both the government dealt effectively with the diktats of some NGOs enforcing to stop service whenever they wished.Chairman of the Council, H Ranjit said they felt unsafe since organizations appear to have total control over the NH 39 and therefore, the resolve to stand by the decision not to ply this route.He said though the NH 53 was not roadworthy yet the truckers felt safer and have therefore asked the Manipur government to improve the road condition.Meanwhile, Manipur government has also requested Union Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways to issue a notification regarding the handing over of the NH-53 to the Manipur Public Works Department.Cabinet of the Ibobi led Secular Progressive Front (SPF) in a seating has approved the take-over of NH-53 from 3.22 km (Takyel, Imphal) to 222 km (Jiribam) from the Border Road Organization currently maintaining the road and handover to the state Public Works Department.The state cabinet also approved to provide immediate funds from the state budget to assist the PWD in restoring the NH-53 route.They have also requested the Central government to reimburse the expenses incurred by the state government in strengthening the highway, secretary to chief minister, PK Singh said.


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