Imphal, May 12: Petrol pump owners in Manipur, protesting against a public statement by the Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (CAFPD) Director, on Friday agreed to withdraw their “indefinite shutdown” which they had begun earlier in the day.
However, the pumps shall reopen from Saturday only since the pump employees had gone to their homes anticipating a long stand-off. The protest shutdown, called by the All Manipur Petrol Pumps Dealers Association early on Friday, came a week after CAFPD Director Ranjan Yumm raided two petrol pumps here on May 4.
After the raids, Yumm said: “Both the pumps were shut down with a notification that they were out of stock. But we found that there was enough fuel stock in both the pumps.” The CAFPD department even had photographic and video coverage of the raids. However, in a meeting later, the petrol pump owners denied the charge that oil pumps were supplying fuel to roadside vendors for more profit, while the dealers association called the CAFPD statement “misleading” and “defamatory in ture” and demanded an “unconditiol apology”.
Claiming that there were many sources of fuel apart from the oil pumps, All Manipur Petrol Pump Dealers Association Secretary H. Rajeswor alleged that most of the government departments were supplying fuel to roadside vendors. “It (the strike) will continue indefinitely. We will call off the strike only when an unconditiol apology is tendered to us,” he said. Rajeswor even submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on May 8 giving a full account of the incident and seeking an unconditiol apology from Yumm.
The government did not respond to Rajeswor’s letter, and the dealers decided to shut down the petrol pumps indefinitely. People, who were caught uwares, had to buy petrol from roadside vendors at Rs 150 per litre. Within hours of the shutdown, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (CAFPD) Karam Shyam convened a joint meeting of the department officials and representatives of the All Manipur Petrol Pump Dealers Association. Eventually the dealers agreed to withdraw their protest action.
Later, Shyam said: “There was a frank discussion and the misunderstanding has been cleared. The dealers have agreed to reopen the pumps. Since the employees had gone to their respective homes, most of the pumps shall be open from Saturday.” One dealer said: “It will be wrong to say that whenever a blockade or general strike is announced, the oil pumps indulge in hoarding and black-marketing. People are in panic and the tanks of the oil pumps have limited storage capacity.” (IANS)