Imphal: Diesel-run autorickshaw and van drivers under the Joint Administrative Cou-ncil, All Manipur Under Five Tonne Service, have reacted to the Manipur government’s denial of its decision to ban diesel-run auto-rickshaws and vans in and around the city.

The drivers on Monday launched a 48-hour ceasework, alleging that on April 25 the chief minister and the Traffic Regulation and Parking Committee had decided to ban diesel-run autos and vans entering the city to control pollution and traffic congestion.

Manipur chief minister Nongthombam Biren Singh told reporters at his office on Monday, “The government neither took any decision nor issued any official order that diesel autos and vans have to stop plying in Imphal. I am surprised at the reaction of the drivers.”

“There was a discussion by the departments concerned regarding the rising pollution from the diesel autos and there was a resolution that we need to survey the situation, but there is no immediate ban,” said the chief minister.

The general secretary of the drivers’ joint administrative council, Loukrakpam Shashikanta, said, “We know that the government did not issue an official order to ban our service, but it was discussed. One day anytime the state will ban us. Our appeal is to give some time before banning our service.”

The drivers have been demanding that the government should withdraw the decision.

The state transport department also clarified that the TRPC has not taken any decision to ban the diesel auto-rickshaws and vans.

The department’s director, C. Arthur, said there has been a miscommunication between the department and the transporters’ unions. He said the committee held a meeting to reduce the congestion and noise pollution in the city area, but had not decided to ban the vehicles. According to the department, the number of diesel auto-rickshaws which acquired permits are 2,133 out of 7,655 autos running here.

With the ceasework, there was much less traffic on the city roads and lesser crowds at Khwairamband bazar.

Shashikanta said, “We will not suspend our strike until we reach an agreement with the government. About 40 protesters were arrested and seven of them have been jailed. We want them to be released.”

The drivers demanded a vehicle-conversion policy and a proper parking place as well.



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