LPG crisis looms over North East region as transporters continue stir

From Our Special Correspondent

GUWAHATI: An acute crisis of LPG cylinders is apparently looming over the region with the indefinite strike resorted to by the Northeast (Packed) LPG Transporters’ Association entering the fourth day on Wednesday.
The association had stopped transportation of cylinders to the LPG agencies across the Northeast from September 9 to protest against the alleged alterations in the terms and conditions of the tendering process by the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd authorities and subsequent reduction of profit margin by 20 per cent besides alleged shifting of the operations of the IOCL head office from Guwahati to Kolkata.
Sources in the association informed that discussions between the representatives of the association and IOCL authorities here on Tuesday and Wednesday evening failed to bring about a consensus following which the association decided to continue the agitation indefinitely.
Work in at least six LPG cylinder bottling plants in Assam and a few others across the Northeast came to a halt since the strike was undertaken on Sunday.
As of Wednesday, more than 1200 trucks across Northeast are not operational while in North Guwahati alone, over 400 trucks were parked on the road.
Kumud Nath, adviser of the association and president of the All North Guwahati Packed LPG Transporters Association, told The Shillong Times on Wednesday that the association was compelled to resort to agitation in the wake of an alleged conspiracy to shift the marketing office at Noonmati to Kolkata.
“We believe that the IOCL authorities here are conspiring against us as not only have they shifted operations to Kolkata but floated tenders at a rate which is 20 per cent below the previous rate thereby lowering the amount to Rs 6300 per trip from Rs 7500. We are demanding that they raise the rate by 50 per cent,” Nath said.
The association ferries close to 22,000 LPG cylinders in Guwahati alone everyday. Meghalaya too has been affected with about 16,000 cylinders supplied by 50 trucks to gas agencies in Shillong and Tura by the association everyday.
“Besides, the IOCL authorities are planning to provide transportation facilities to the LPG agencies which would leave us in the lurch,” he said. The ceasework is bound to create an acute scarcity of cooking gas across the region in the coming days. As it is, gas agencies here did not have any cylinder deliveries on Wednesday.
“We understand the problems consumers will face in the coming days and convey our apologies for the inconvenience. Hence, we want the IOC authorities to fulfill our demands, so that we can resume work,” he said.