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Violence dries up essential supplies in Assam
G Vinayak in Guwahati |
November 24, 2003 09:21 IST
The continuing violence in Assam has started affecting the flow of essential supplies with many trucking companies in North India refusing to take the risk of travelling to northeastern states.
Four truck drivers were gunned down last Tuesday on the West Bengal-Assam border.
Moreover with several thousand Bihari labourers, who worked as porters and loaders, having fled the state in panic after over 50 Biharis were killed in a weeklong violence, there is no one to lift the loads in the goods yards and transport company godowns.
This is likely to lead to shortage of essential food items and medicines since Assam and the rest of the northeast is totally dependent upon supplies from outside the region.
An industry estimate puts the figure of import of essential items into the region at close to Rs 1500 crore a year.
On an average at least 1500 trucks enter Assam through two check gates, one at Chagolia and the other at Srirampur, every day. Of these more than half carry essential items like like sugar, onion, gram, wheat, potato and rice from Bihar.
A report in a local daily on Monday has quoted the president of the Dhubri District Truck Drivers' Union, Satya Kumar Dey, as saying, 'Police escorts are being provided for convoys of 10-15 trucks, but truckers from Bihar, who are scared of being attacked, are stranded in Bengal, particularly at Joraimore.'
Several shipments of newsprint are also stranded on the Bengal side of the checkgate.
Chapra-based Dharmendra Singh said he had arrived at Tufanganj on November 18, the day the truckers were killed, but could not move ahead.
"I have spoken to the local truckers and they have agreed to deliver them in Guwahati. Many truckers are opting for transhipment," said Singh.
Confirming this C K Saikia, general manager of ABC India Ltd, said nearly 300 trucks were stranded on the Bengal side and most have decided to transship their goods.
Gulam Mohammad, who hails from Bihar's Siwan district and is stranded at Chilakhana in Bengal, said he was worried about his three brothers who had gone to Assam a few days before the violence broke out.
"I am waiting for my brothers who are stranded in Nalbari to join me here. We will not carry any more goods to Assam," he said.
Loading and unloading in the Broiadguage Railway yard in Guwahati is also affected since a majority of the 4000-odd Bihari labourers have left the city out of panic.