Imphal Dec 4 (IANS) Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh said on Sunday that a United Naga Council-imposed blockade on National Highways No.2 and No.53 is slowing down construction work in the state and urged the Centre to persuade NSCN (IM) to call off the blockade.
The Chief Minister contends that the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), which is holding negotiations with the Centre, is backbone of the United Naga Council (UNC) in the state.
The UNC enforced a blockade on National Highways 2 and 53 on November 1 in protest the Okram Ibobi Singh government’s move to upgrade Sadar Hills and Jiribam to full-fledged districts, allegedly without consulting the Nagas, who inhabit the areas.
Various construction works, including the construction of Integrated Check Posts near the international border with Myanmar as part of the legalised border trade infrastructure, have been stopped, according to officials.
The construction stopped as the prices of building materials have almost doubled due to drop in supplies. A bag of cement which was sold at Rs 420 before the blockade is now available at Rs 850.
“Trucks loaded with building materials are stranded for weeks. In case of the NH 2, they stayed in the mountain highway for more than one month. The transporters exact extra charges, including for food and other expenses of the drivers and cleaners. Due to these additional expenses, prices have to increase,” Ram Prasad, a shop owner, said.
Meanwhile, there is no indication that the blockade will be over soon. The Centre had arranged a tripartite meeting recently. However, the Manipur government did not take part in it.
The Nagas also have been demanding an “alternative arrangement”, contending that they no longer want to stay “under the communal government of Ibobi”.