Shortage of essential items, fuel cripples life in Tripura, protests on

Agartala, July 29 (IANS) The supply of essentials and fuel continues to be hit badly in Tripura for about two months now even as the state government has repeatedly sought the central government’s intervention to restore its lifeline – National Highway-8 – which has been badly damaged in adjacent Assam.

Due to heavy rains and poor maintenance, the NH-8, has turned into a muddy field with knee-deep mud at Lowerpoah in southern Assam’s Karimganj district adjoining northern Tripura, thus almost cutting off Tripura by surface communication.

Opposition political parties and affected people have been organising road blockade and protests regularly to demand normal supply of fuel. Some protestors have also been burning vehicle tyres.

People were also facing severe scarcity of cooking gas due to a major shortfall in the supply.

On Friday, 25 Trinmool Congress picketers were arrested by the police when they tried to enter the civil secretariat forcibly.

Tripura’s PWD Minister Badal Choudhury, Transport Minister Manik Dey and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bhanulal Saha on Friday jointly addressed the media to explain the situation.

Choudhury later accused opposition parties of “exploiting” the situation arising due to the fuel crisis to “create violence and disturb peace in the state”.

At the press conference, he, releasing copies of all the state government’s letters to the central and Assam governments, said that the central government has not being showing its due responsibility toward the people of Tripura.

“Central government can deploy military engineering service or Border Road Organisation or any of its agencies to urgently repair the damaged portion of the roads,” he said, adding that for the repair of only a 300 metre portion of the highway, they had been appealing to both Assam and central governments almost every week.

Saha said that some trucks and fuel tankers passed through the damaged areas but this was nothing.

“The state government has suggested that essential items including fuels be transported to Tripura through Bangladesh.”

Saha, had earlier this week, said that the Food Corporation of India and the Indian Oil Corporation had assured them that they have taken steps to transport food grains, petrol and diesel through Bangladesh, using the Guwahati-Dawki-Dharmanagar route and Bangladesh’s Ashuganj river port.

“If the central and Assam governments would have taken steps earlier to repair NH-8, then Tripura would not have suffered in such a magnitude. The centre should be much more responsible for easing the sufferings of the northeastern states which are affected due to lack of proper surface connectivity,” he said.

Choudhury said he also spoke with his Assam counterpart Parimal Suklabaidya and Tripura Chief Secretary Yashpal Singh talked to his Assam counterpart and sought their intervention to overcome the crisis.

Several hundred goods-laden trucks and oil tankers carrying fuel from Guwahati are stuck in Assam’s Karimganj, while the situation worsened as the train services between Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and southern Assam and the rest of India became irregular for more then two months due to damage to the railway tracks in Assam’s Dima Hasao district.

Following the shortage caused by the disruption of both rail and road traffic, prices of fuel and essential commodities have increased to a large extent in Tripura.

Taking a cue from the Delhi government, Tripura had introduced the “odd-even” system from Thursday in a bid to ration petrol and diesel.

“The odd-even vehicle registration number system was introduced to distribute petrol and diesel to all vehicles including two-wheelers,” Saha said adding that on an average one third of daily requirement of 200 kilolitres of petrol are being available among the 62 petrol pumps.

–IANS

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