TRANSPORTER MINISTER APPEALS TRIBAL BODY TO WITHDRAW ECONOMIC BLOCKADE
Manipur police, in its crackdown on All Manipur Tribal Development and Grievances Forum (AMTDGF) sponsored indefinite economic blockade, detained at least six supporters.
An indefinite economic blockade imposed by the AMTDGF on the national highways commenced today (Thursday) to press the state government to release pending funds for MGNREGS.
The forum, through the social media, also alleged misappropriation of a large chunk of Rs 756 crore of MGNREGS funds meant for “tribal people” by the state government.
An official source said that the police picked up at least six blockade supporters at some places along the NH-2 (Imphal-Mao section) in Kangpokpi and Senapati districts.
Additional director general of police (ADGP) L Kailun, while confirming picking up of blockade supporters, said imposing economic blockade was anti-national and a violation of people’s rights.
Talking to reporters, he said that legal action will be initiated against the strike callers and supporters.
He informed the police have made all the necessary security arrangements for the undisturbed flow of the vehicles, particularly goods trucks, during the blockade.
In the meantime, state transport minister Khasim Vashum has appealed to the AMTDGF to withdraw the economic blockade imposed on national highways and invited leaders of the forum for a talk with the government.
The minister also warned of legal action against the leaders if the forum continued the blockade unheeding the appeal.
Addressing a press conference at his office chamber in Imphal today, the transport minister said that imposing economic blockade or any other forms of strikes that disturbed normal shipping of goods on the highway affected all sections of the society.
The BJP-led government in the state is totally against such agitations and has been trying its best to resolve all issues through talks.
The incumbent government had almost abolished bandh and blockade culture from the state. However, AMTDGF has reminded the people of the state.
He said the recent blockade will give a wrong impression of the state as it is at a time when the state was gearing up for the annual Manipur Sangai Festival.
The 10-day tourism festival is due to commence from November 21.
The blockade will cost a lot. It may embarrass the expected foreign and other domestic visitors in the state during the festival, he said.
“The government always opens its doors for dialogue if there is any grievance. Do come forward, we are ready for dialogue,” he said. The minister said that the state government was making all efforts to release MGNREGS funds sanctioned by the Centre at the earliest.
He said that in June last, the state government had released Rs 100 crore for the current financial year and the state finance department has also cleared the desk for release of another Rs 140 crore.
The remaining funds will be released before the end of the current financial year, he assured.
The minister also refuted allegations of misappropriation of Rs 756 crore of MGNREGA funds meant for tribal people by the state government.
He said that there is nothing which is specified as “tribal money” or “general money” in MGNREGS as mentioned by the forum.
The rural development and panchayati raj department used to distribute the funds released by the government to all the 16 districts in proportional manner as per rule irrespective hill or valley districts.
“Be careful. Don’t make baseless allegations. MGNREGS is a centre sponsored scheme. If any controversy surfaces, Centre will stop sanctioning the funds“, the minister cautioned.
The minister reiterated his appeal to the forum to withdraw the economic blockade and urged the transporters to continue ferrying goods on the highways as usual.
He assured that the police department is ready to provide the necessary security for the vehicles plying on the national highways.