Agartala, July 21 (IANS): Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday asked ministry officials to send a technical team to the northeast region to restore Tripura's lifeline, National Highway-8, which has been badly damaged by rains of the past many weeks.
"Three Tripura parliamentarians met Gadkari in New Delhi on Wednesday to apprise him of the condition of NH-8. The minister directed officials to send a technical team to the spot," Tripura's Lok Sabha member Jitendra Chowdhury told IANS over phone from Delhi.
"Gadkari ordered for steps to restore the national highway immediately. We have submitted photographs and documents on the precarious condition of the highways in the region."
Road Transport and Highways Ministry Secretary Sanjay Mitra was also present during the meeting.
The NH-8 has turned into a muddy field with knee-deep mud at Lowerpoah in south Assam adjoining northern Tripura, thereby almost cutting off Tripura from the rest of the country. Tripura and other northeastern States are mostly dependent on highways for the supply of essential goods, food grain and fuels from other parts of India.
The supplies to Tripura have continued to be hit severely for more than one and a half months now even as the State government sought the Centre's and Assam government's intervention to repair the NH-8.
Following the shortages caused by disruption of both rail and road traffic, prices of essential commodities and fuel have shot up in Tripura.
The situation worsened as the train services between Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and southern Assam and the rest of India became irregular for more than two months due to damage to the rail tracks in the mountainous Dima Hasao district of Assam.
Tripura Chief Secretary Yashpal Singh, who visited the damaged stretch of the highway on Monday, told IANS: "I have talked to the ministry secretary and the Assam Chief Secretary. I requested them to restore the road."
Tripura Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bhanulal Saha said the State government has suggested that food grain, essential items and fuel be transported to Tripura through Bangladesh.
"The Food Corporation of India and the Indian Oil Corporation officials assured us they have taken steps to transport food grains, petrol and diesel through Bangladesh. For this, the Guwahati-Dawki-Dharmanagar route and Bangladesh's Ashuganj river port would be used," Saha told reporters.
Tripura Public Works Department Minister Badal Choudhury also spoke to Assam's PWD Minister Parimal Suklabaidya and sought his intervention to overcome the crisis.
Besides thousands of goods-laden trucks, several hundred oil tankers carrying fuel from Guwahati are stuck ahead of the damaged highway areas in Assam's Karimganj district, adjoining northern Tripura.