North East

Majuli traders on strike after govt stops boat service

Shillong, Oct 11: Traders in the island cluster of Majuli went on a two-day strike from Monday after retail supplies dried up following the government’s decision to stop all but one boat to carry articles from the city to the island.

The state government took the decision to shut down boat service after the accident on September 8 when two boats collided killing at least three persons.

Speaking to Meghalaya Monitor, Jibon Baruah, president of Chambers of Commerce said earlier there were 10-12 boats for traders to ferry essential and other retail goods.

“Those boats were protected but the one that has been left to ferry items has no protection and articles are geeting spoiled in the rain. The cost has also gone up. Earlier, we paid Re 1/quintal. Now, it is Rs 7-8/quintal. This way, traders too have to hike prices and this will affect the common people,” said Baruah.

All shops were closed in the cluster of islands on Monday and a similar situation will follow on Tuesday. Vehicles were plying as usual, said a source.

To a query, Baruah said members of the traders’ body had a meeting with the district administration on Monday. “But the officials said they had no power and all depended on the chief minister’s order,” he added.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is yet to issue a fresh order on the resumption of boat services.

Several attempts to contact deputy commissioner Bikram Kairi went in vain.

Majuli was elevated to a district after it was carved out of Jorhat in 2016. Sarbananda Sonowal, the former Assam chief minister, won from Majuli (ST) constituency in the last Assembly elections early this year. However, after his resignation as MLA following his induction in the Union Cabinet, Majuli has remained without any representation in the state Assembly. The bypoll is yet to be announced.

“There are over 2,000 traders under the chamber of commerce umbrella and we have been holding meet after meet. We had appealed to the government and the prime minister but with no result. Traders are incurring heavy losses,” said Baruah.

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