Agartala, July 2 (IANS) With Tripura remaining cut-off from the rest of the country for more than a month, efforts are on to transport foodgrains and fuel to the northeastern state through Bangladesh, a minister said here on Saturday.
"The Food Corporation of India and Indian Oil Corporation have taken steps to transport foodgrains, petrol and diesel through Bangladesh. For this, the Guwahati-Dawki-Dharmanagar route and Bangladesh's Ashuganj river port would be used," Tripura Revenue and PWD Minister Badal Chowdhury told IANS.
For over a month supply of essential commodities has been hit after the National Highway (NH-8) was badly damaged due to rain and water-logging.
Following the Tripura government's appeal and the central government's intervention, IOC and FCI were prompted to take steps to transport foodgrains, petrol and diesel for Tripura through Bangladesh.
In 2015, the Bangladesh government had allowed FCI to transport 35,000 tonnes of rice in different phases to Tripura through Bangladesh, using the Ashuganj river port and Bangladesh highways.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar on Friday held an emergency meeting with PWD Minister Chowdhury, officials of IOC, FCI, railways, PWD and transport departments.
Chowdhury said: "If the central and Assam governments would have taken steps earlier to repair the NH-8, then Tripura would not have suffered. The Centre should be much more responsible for easing the sufferings of the northeastern states which are affected due to lack of proper surface connectivity."
Chowdhury said top officials of the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation, and PWD departments of Tripura and Assam on Saturday visited the troubled areas.
Tripura PWD minister also talked to his Assam counterpart, Parimal Suklabaidya, and sought his personal intervention to overcome the crisis.
Meanwhile, in a tweet, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said he has instructed officials to work on a war-footing to restore the NH-8 to improve connectivity with Tripura.
Following the shortages caused by the disruption of both rail and road traffic, prices of essential commodities have increased in Tripura.
An official of the food and civil supplies department said almost all the 60 petrol pumps in the state are dry for the past several weeks.
Over 1,000 tankers carrying fuel from Guwahati are stuck in Assam's Karimganj district, adjoining northern Tripura.
Petrol is being sold at Rs 200-250 per litre here.
Tripura and other northeastern state are dependent on the highways for supply of essentials from across India.
Tripura is badly affected because the 585-km NH-8 -- its only connection with the rest of India through Assam and Meghalaya -- was severely damaged at Lowerpoah in Assam and Churaibari adjoining southern Assam.
About a 20-km stretch of the NH-8 has turned into a marshy field after heavy downpour, water-logging and unfavourable soil condition.
The situation worsened as the train services between Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and southern Assam and the rest of India were cancelled for about two months due to the damage to railway tracks in mountainous Dima Hasao district in Assam.
"We are trying to restore the train services within a week. Our workers and engineers are working round-the-clock to restore rail services," Northeast Frontier Railways Chief Administrative Officer Ajit Pandit told IANS.