Kolkata: A fuel crisis in the city seemed imminent with a stir by oil tankers disrupting the supply line from Mourigram depot of Indian Oil Corporation. The tankers are protesting against a downward fare revision and disbanding of 70 tankers.
The supply from Mourigram caters to central and north Kolkata and the northern suburbs, Howrah, parts of Hooghly and North 24 Parganas. The stalemate continued at a meeting between the tankers’ association and IOC on Friday with the oil marketing company seeking seven days to resolve the issues. The tankers’ association has refused to withdraw the strike.
“IOC has informed the state on the supply situation in the wake of the strike. On Friday, IOC officials met the transporters’ body in Howrah and requested them withdraw the strike. But they refused to suspend the strike unless a tender that had been floated was cancelled,” an IOC spokesperson said.
Though fuel stations in Kolkata still have stocks, some stations in Howrah and Hooghly went dry. IOC has stepped up supply from Budge Budge, Halia and Durgapur depots to bridge the demand-supply gap. “If the strike continues, Kolkata will get affected. Some fuel stations may dry up in a couple of days,” said West Bengal Petroleum Dealers’ Association vice-president Snehasish Bhowmik.
In its statement, IOC said: “On August 5, a section of petroleum transporters went on a flash strike at Howrah terminal by putting up blockade. The agitation was reportedly started after IOC floated a tender of transportation of petrol/diesel from Howrah terminal by tankers.”
According to the tankers’ association, IOC has abruptly cut 70 tankers from the list of its supply line and reduced the fare from Rs 2,800 to 2,100. “This move will result in a massive livelihood loss of more than 2,000 people,” said West Bengal Tankers’ Association general secretary Ajit Kumar Das. “We have told IOC that we can continue the supply with the old fare and made an appeal not to cut off 70 tankers from the list,” he added. Currently, 196 tankers supply fuel to retail outlets from the depot.