Quarry workers impose indefinite bandh on NH-2

Quarry workers impose indefinite bandh on NH-2
Quarry workers impose indefinite bandh on NH-2 forcing trucks with imported sand to unload at Kanglatombi on Friday. (NP)
Correspondent IMPHAL, Jul 26 | Publish Date: 7/26/2019 12:12:21 PM IST

As many as 10 sand loaded trucks on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur section) were forced to unload the sand before reaching Imphal as indefinite bandh on the highway in protest against ban on sand and stone mining in Manipur began from Friday morning.

Workers engaged in sand and stone mining on the river beds of Sekmai River imposed the indefinite bandh on the highway to demand  lifting the ban imposed on sand and stone mining in all rivers in Manipur.

An order of the High Court of Manipur passed on July 2 last put a total ban on unauthorised stone quarry, sand mining in all rivers of the state in order to prevent river pollution. 

The court further directed officials to take preventive measures to stop exploitation of the rivers.

Implementing the order, authorities of state government have prohibited all activities related with sand and stone mining in all rivers across the state, except those authorised ones.

Almost all the mining works carried out in the beds of the rivers across the state were not license holders, firms possessing lease agreements were from the purview of the ban. 

As such thousands of quarry workers were left with no job, compelling them to protest against the order of the court.

Quarry workers in large number took to the streets on the stretch of the highway at various places and imposed bandh on the NH-2, the lifeline of people of Manipur. 

The bandh stranded a good number of vehicles including Imphal-bound loaded trucks and inter-state bus beyond Kangpokpi on Senapati side of the highway as protestors blocked movement of all kinds of vehicles.

The protestors, however, kept vehicles transporting school children, religious related matters and essential service outside the purview of the bandh.

Talking to reporters, a women quarry worker cried that since the ban came into effect their live were severely affected. They were leading a miserable life as they have no other alternative means to earn their livelihood.

She said that they were not against the order of the court but protesting against sudden imposition of the ban order without taking into account the plights of the workers whose livelihood was solely dependent on the income from quarry work. Before the ban comes into effect, the court or the authority of the state government must have considered the plights of the workers, she said.

Meanwhile, quarry workers announced that the bandh will continue until and unless the ban on sand and stone mining is lifted. 

They further announced restriction in the import of sand and stone from outside the state saying that transportation of sand and stone on Imphal-Dimapur section of the highway will be banned until their demand is fulfilled.

State authority deployed a large number of police including women personnel to foil the bandh and check any untoward incident during the bandh.

However, they were helpless in clearing  the road as quarry workers outnumbered them. 

Police officers who arrived at the spot tried their best to convince the protestors to open the road,  however, unheeding the police, they continued with the bandh.

The quarry workers of Sekmai River imposed the indefinite highway bandh alleging that both the court and state government failed to address their plights despite democratic forms of protests.

Mention may be made that quarry workers in Imphal East district had also threatened similar protest (bandh on Imphal-Ukhrul road) if the court or government fails to address their grievances on or before July 30.

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