Agartala, Aug 1 (IANS) After two months, the supply of essentials and fuel has improved in Tripura with the state’s lifelines — National Highway-8 and NH-208(A) — being repaired in neighbouring Assam, a minister said here on Monday.
Due to heavy rains and poor maintenance, NH-8 and NH-208(A) had turned into muddy quagmires with knee-deep slush over 10 to 20 km area in southern Assam’s Karimganj district adjoining north Tripura, thus virtually snapping Tripura’s surface communication.
Normal life was badly affected in the northeastern state for the past two months due to huge shortage of transport fuel and essentials. People were facing severe scarcity of cooking gas due to a major shortfall in supply.
“Both NH-8 and NH-208(A) have been repaired as much as possible and works are proceeding on a war-footing. A large number of goods-laden trucks, fuel tankers and other vehicles passed through the damaged stretches despite rain and bad weather,” Tripura Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bhanulal Saha told IANS.
He said: “We have told the IOCL (Indian Oil Corporation Limited) to arrange 60 fuel tankers or two lakh kilolitres of petrol everyday to meet the crisis. Top officials of railways, IOCL and Tripura government held a series of meetings during the past two days to arrange carrying of fuel through the railways.”
The minister said necessary infrastructure was not yet ready to carry fuel through railways to Tripura from Assam.
“If the central and Assam governments had taken steps earlier to repair NH-8 and NH-208(A), then Tripura would not have suffered. 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.
Meanwhile, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu told reporters here that to overcome the fuel crisis in Tripura due to damaged road connectivity, he has instructed officials to take steps for bringing in fuel through the railways.
“Trains carrying fuel like the ones carrying water to drought-hit Latur would help Tripura tide over the present crisis,” he said.
The Railway Minister on Sunday flagged-off the Agartala-Delhi passenger train services and, accompanied by his Bangladeshi counterpart Mazibul Hoque, jointly laid the foundation stone for the 15-km Agartala (India)-Akhaura (Bangladesh) railway project. He left here for Nagaland on Monday.
Tripura PWD Chief Engineer (in-charge of National Highway) Dipak Das said the state PWD has been helping the NHIDCL (National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited) to repair NH-8 and NH-208(A).
“Maintenance of both the national highways has been going on just to overcome the crisis in Tripura. After the end of monsoon in September, exhaustive repair work would be undertaken,” Das told IANS over phone.
North Tripura District Magistrate Sandeep Namdeo Mahatame and top engineers of PWD are camping at Ground Zero to supervise the maintenance works and passing of vehicles from Assam to Tripura.
Several hundred goods-laden trucks and oil tankers carrying fuel from Guwahati and different parts of India had earlier got stuck in Assam’s Karimganj, while the situation further worsened as the train services between Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and southern Assam and the rest of India became irregular for more then two-and-a-half months due to damage to the railway tracks in Assam’s Dima Hasao district.
Prices of fuel and essential commodities have gone up in Tripura.
Taking a cue from the Delhi government, Tripura had introduced the “odd-even” system of plying of vehicles in a bid to ration petrol and diesel.