The Sikkim government is stocking up supplies ahead of the indefinite bandh in the neighbouring Darjeeling district of West Bengal that begins on Saturday to press for the creation of a separate Gorkhaland state.
Sikkim is dependent on National Highway 31A (NH 31A), which runs through the Darjeeling hills, for supplies and connectivity with the rest of the country.
Considered the lifeline of Sikkim, NH 31A connects Sikkim’s capital Gangtok with Siliguri, the largest town of northern West Bengal. It runs through Kalimpong subdivision of Darjeeling district.
But with the bandh set to severely disrupt traffic on NH 31A, Sikkim chief secretary R Ongmu called a review meeting on Wednesday to take stock of essential commodities in the state.
The meeting was attended by the Sikkim director general of police; secretaries of home, transport, food; and civil supplies and chief engineer of Border Roads Organisation.
The officials were instructed to stock sufficient quantities of essential commodities such as food grains, petrol, diesel, LPG and vegetables.
The chief secretary asked the district commissioners and superintendents of police to monitor the pricing of essential commodities so as to check artificial price rise, hoarding and black-marketing during the bandh period.
Rationing of essential commodities in case of a prolonged strike was also discussed.
On Tuesday, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha announced an indefinite strike in Darjeeling from Saturday to press for its Gorkhaland demand, after the UPA government accepted the 45-year-old demand for creation of Telangana state out of Andhra Pradesh.
Meanwhile, West Bengal police provided protection to vehicles plying between Sikkim and Siliguri on NH 31A, as assured by the Darjeeling district administration to keep the highway unaffected by the Gorkhaland agitation.
"A total of 175 vehicles were escorted up to Siliguri while 86 vehicles crossed the highway safely and reached Rangpo on Wednesday evening," said East Sikkim district police superintendent Manoj Tiwari.
Most travel bookings in Sikkim have also reportedly been cancelled in view of the impending bandh.