48-hour national highway lockdown by sandstone transporters suspended
Drivers and cleaners of 35 trucks who had transported sand and stone from a river along the Manipur-Myanmar border have been stranded for the 8th day on Monday in the thick mountains near the permanent check post of the 43 Assam Rifles at Khudengthabi, 12 km from Moreh, the border State.
The drivers said, “We were not allowed to proceed to Imphal from September 30 by the officials. We have no food, water for drinking and washing, no toilet facilities. Since there are tribal villages on both sides of Khudengthabi along NH 102, there is no privacy. We have to go to Moreh to buy drinking water. The tribal organisations in general and the All Tribal Sandstone Transporters Association have been giving us some food”.
One driver said that it was disappointing that the Manipur government had not solved the impasse. The 48-hour national highway lockdown by the sandstone transporters imposed in the morning was suspended late on Sunday after a protracted negotiation with the police and Assam Rifles officials who reportedly assured that the issue would be sorted out by Wednesday. One driver said, “If the assurance is not translated into concrete actions we will extend support to the general strike, economic blockade and other forms of agitations the tribal transporters adopt”.
Following a High Court ruling in reply to a public interest litigation (PIL) petition, the State government had banned sand mining in Manipur. It said that the government should not allow the sand and stone trucks to ply after merely collecting a penalty. The PIL said that people in several constituencies through which the major rivers meander face health problems and paucity of water as for generations they were depending on these rivers. The mechanised sand mining has made the river waters muddy and unusable.
Prices of sand and stones were hiked in Manipur following this ban, hampering the construction works in Manipur.
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