IMPHAL, November 7: The people of the state have started to feel the pinch of scarcity of petroleum products with all outlets, depots remaining shut and the current stock position in the state as according to the SPF spokesperson running almost dry.
The situation is becoming more distressing with each passing day as the Consumers Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (CAF&PD), minister and SPF spokesperson N. Biren already announcing on November 5 that the stock of petroleum products is left only for a day.
All petrol depots that have been somehow selling petroleum products as scheduled by the department of CAF&PD have stopped completely since yesterday.
The government informed that the reason for non-availability of petroleum products is due to Imphal-Jiribam (NH-37) road remaining cut off since the past few weeks due to bad shape of Sadarghat in Silchar amidst the economic blockade imposed by the UNC.
The NH-37 is the only road linking the state with the rest of the country used for transportation of essential commodities of the state since the economic blockade imposed by the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee (SHDDC) since August 1 and followed by counter blockade of the UNC from August 21. Since then the government has been bringing goods with heavy security escorts along this highway.
Even though the SHDDC blockade has suspended for now, the counter blockade of the UNC has entered its 77th days.
The panic has become even graver as petrol, diesel and cooking gas which were available in the black market in unbelievable prices are hard to find now. The price of petrol in the black market has reached Rs 170-200 per litre, while a litre of diesel cost Rs 85-90. A filled gas cylinder cost around Rs 2000.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister while admitting the poor stock of petroleum products in the state had announced that plan is afoot to sort out an alternative means to bring in petroleum products in the state including talking to his Assam counterpart to restore the Sadarghat bridge at the earliest.
Dhaneshwari a house wife, resident of Kwakeithel Thiyam leikai, said “Life has become very miserable in Manipur with frequent bandhs, blockades, and strikes. Our rights have been deprived every now and then. We don’t get anything at the right prices, the price of cooking gas is too high that our family is left with no choice but to use charcoal”.
Allen Golmei a resident of Namguilong, working in a private firm said “First it was the worry of standing in a never ending queue for petrol or to spend huge amount of money to buy petrol from the black market and now if we are willing to pay the exorbitant prices we are unable to find petrol. These have become a part of life in the Manipur”.
Altogether 1900 trucks which included petroleum tankers, LGP carriers and freight trucks today left Imphal for Jiribam around 8 am under heavy security escort of police commandos from three districts.
According to a representative of truckers union, the vehicles which left Imphal today will passed through Sadarghat bridge in Silchar, after some repairs but he expressed his fear on the durability of the bridge.
In the meantime, another 174 vehicles reached Imphal from Moreh escorted by a team of 8th Manipur Rifles. Of the total vehicles there are seven trucks, five DI tatas, 52 tata sumos, 407 mini Tata trucks, 88 vans, one Bolero and seven wingers.