Effects of shutdown in Assam;
Scarcity in Manipur
Lockdown in Assam. Prices of all essential commodities shooting up in Imphal. Chief Minister N Biren Singh announcing on the floor of the House that a Price Fixation Committee will be set up soon to monitor the price of goods being sold to the consumers. Indicates so many things. This is worrisome. The State depends heavily or rather solely on consumer goods brought from outside Manipur, via the National Highways. When the train comes, this dependency will still continue. This is the reason, in fact the only reason, why Imphal saw all goods rising sharply in the price graph recently and to think that Assam was locked down, not for months but for some days and the situation is really worrisome. What is more disturbing is the fact that after Assam was locked down, prices of goods brought in from Moreh side, that is from neighbouring Myanmar, too shot up. All indications that there are some elements who have been deciding when to raise the prices of essential commodities and in the process fatten their wallets. This is where the assurance of the Chief Minister to set up a Price Fixation Committee becomes significant. This is not the first time that some unscrupulous traders have been known to jack up prices of essential commodities when the supply line to the State is derailed. Imphal or Manipur has seen this many times in the past, thanks to the numerous economic blockades imposed by the hill based civil society organisations. In all these instances the relief came only when the said blockades were lifted and it is a pity that Governments down the years have failed to work out measures to meet such eventualities.
If the National Highways are the only lifelines of the State then shouldn’t measures be taken up to ensure that Manipur at least has some buffer stocks to fall back on when these highways are derailed or disturbed ? Railways will help, no doubt, but the State cannot continue to rely solely on the daily transportation of goods from outside. Any far sighted leader should have foreseen this a long time back, particularly so when the State has been besieged by so many economic blockades in the past. And why should goods brought in from Moreh side suddenly become costly when the route to Assam is derailed or blocked ? The recent example of how prices of goods from Moreh hit the ceiling just because the route from Assam was blocked should tell a significant story and this is the time for the Government to act. Why is there still no cold storage facilities in the State ? The Price Fixation Committee is good but the Government will need to look beyond this, admit its inadequacies and work accordingly. Granted economic blockade has become a thing of the past, but this is no reason for the BJP led Government to continue to pat itself but should instead look for ways to make the State more self sufficient. At least ensure that Manipur is able to survive on its own for some time, instead of depending daily, and this term daily is important, for everything that is brought through the land route from Assam and beyond.