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Petrol pumps shut in Manipur following highway blockade


Imphal, Oct 12: Petrol pumps across Manipur remained shut in the wake of an indefinite blockade along the state's highways, authorities said on Wednesday.

The blockade, called by the Rongemei Naga Youth Front, commenced on Tuesday midnight in protest against the failure of the government to address the deteriorating condition of National Highway 37 linking Assam and Manipur. 

"There was no prior notice. I had to buy petrol at Rs 120 a litre," local resident P. Nilamani said. 

Another resident Rupashree, said: "In the past, the government used to say that there was always a stock to last 21 days. Petrol pump owners were threatened with legal action if they indulged to hoarding. This time, the government has remained silent." 

Meanwhile, traders were profiteering out of the scarcity. Many of them were reportedly going to Moreh along the Myanmar border to fetch petrol to sell in and around Imphal. 

O. Biramani, a trader said: "There are three grades of petrol available at Namphalong across the International Gate and these are cheaper than the Indian petrol. We can get huge profit in bringing petrol to Manipur."

The blockade is being supported by a number of NGOs which contend that the state government has failed to oversee the works of the Border Roads Task Force (BRTF). Several activists blamed the BRTF for the present poor condition of NH 37.

However, BRTF officials have assured the authorities that they would make NH 37 "comfortably passable within December 15". 

They pleaded non-availability of material and interference from extortionists for the poor upkeep of the strategic highway. 

"Despite constraints, we shall make the highway passable. But we need cooperation from the state authorities like checking the weight of the overladen vehicles which so often cross the wobbly bridges along this important highway," the officials said.