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Meghalaya petrol pumps running dry

Assam oil tankers’ strike

A Reporter
SHILLONG, April 29: Many of the petrol pumps in and around Shillong city as well as entire Meghalaya are running without stock due to boycott of loading of petrol tankers over the last four days by the Tankers Association of Assam that exercises control over the loading terminal in Guwahati.
Today being a Sunday, the situation is likely worsen. Meghalaya being a hilly land locked State, totally dependent on Road Transport in the absence of air, rail as well as sea connectivity had to suffer a lot due to frequent strikes called by the representative of the tankers’ union in the past few months. It may be noted that there was a strike very recently in the month of March which lasted for five or six days, leaving the general public in great difficulty. Huge public outcry as well as long queue of the waiting customers was seen at the few petrol pumps wherever fuel was available last month. This continuous trend of disturbance in petroleum supply which falls under Essential Commodities Act lead to disturbance in daily life of the civilians, kids going to school, patients who need to be shifted to hospitals, medical services, tourists as well as the Government machinery. On the crisis day, invariably huge traffic jams are seen in and around Shillong city.
When asked for the reason of such frequent crisis, petroleum outlet dealers always reply that this has resulted due to the activities of Assam Tankers’ Union and not due to petrol dealers of Meghalaya. Dealers say that they never support any kind of strike on any day in the interest of customer. They said there was not a single instance in last 30(Thirty) years or so when any petrol pump have gone on any strike. They said that what is happening is out of their reach since supply of this essential product is controlled from Guwahati. The tanker drivers of Meghalaya are threatened with dire consequences, including burning of their petrol loaded tankers, in case they report at the terminals to load the tankers defying the union diktat. The Meghalaya administration must take immediate note of the situation in view of the suffering of the public. This is high time that the Government of Meghalaya must take all urgent steps to reopen the closed Umiam Depot of the Indian Oil which was previously used to keep 30 days buffer stock for the State of Meghalaya to meet any crisis. The matter for reopening of this closed Umiam Depot was taken up very recently by former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma with Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan when the latter visited Shillong. Sangma also demanded a similar depot in the Garo Hills region. This is the time for the Government to take up the matter with the Assam counterpart to ensure uninterrupted petroleum and LPG supply to Meghalaya and also to direct tankers’ union not to stop loading of Meghalaya bound petrol tankers.

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Ankur Kalita