Minister warns of punitive action as oil tankers cease service

Terming the cease work strike of All Manipur Petroleum Products Transporters’ Association as unreasonable, CAF&PD minister Karam Shyam on Thursday asked the agitating transporters to withdraw their stir or else face legal actions.

In reply to posers of media persons on the sidelines of an inspection visit at Keinou, Shyam categorically stated that the government will not concede to the dictate of some individuals. He also urged the public to refrain from panic buying of transport fuel while assuring that there are enough stock of petrol for 30 days and 48 days for diesel.

Regarding the demand of the transporters, the minister said that insisting on reserving quota at the beginning of tender process is not reasonable. The government had discussed the matter with them (transporters) on numerous occasions and they are acting in their own interest, Shyam said.

He also slammed the association for restricting supply of fuel by tankers of All Manipur IOCL RO Dealers’ Association at the gate of Malom Oil Depot.

While urging the association to withdraw its stand, Shyam informed that the government will give an opportunity to resolve the matter on the negotiation table. However, the government will not remain silent but take up appropriate actions against them if they continue to work unreasonably against the interest of the public, he added.

The minister further asked retail outlets not to hold back fuel stock while adding that the government will forfeit license of any such outlets if found indulging in unethical practice. He also assured all-out efforts from the side of the government to ensure that the public do suffer any hardships due to want of petroleum products.

On the other-hand, expressing strong opposition to the new norms of Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), oil tankers in the state launched indefinite cease work strike halting, all services of loading, unloading and supplying of petroleum products from Thursday by gathering in front of Malom Oil Depot gate.

Speaking to media persons regarding the strike, All Manipur Petroleum Products Transporters’ Association (AMPPTA) president Laishram Somen informed that the transporters who are currently engaged by IOCL for transporting petroleum products have their contract extended till February 28 after their contract of three years expired about two months ago. Fresh tender process through online began from Thursday 3 pm.

In the fresh tender process, IOCL has increased the security deposit amount from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. Moreover, the contract fare for the transporters for the term 2017 to 2020 was fixed by reducing 14 per cent from the fare fixed in 2013, he informed.

Currently, there are more than 2000 tankers, which have not got contract with IOCL in the entire northeast and Manipur alone has 553 tankers. Since IOCL adopted e-tender this time, 553 tankers from the state stand no chance of getting the contracts. However, in times of economic blockades, the state government has no other means but to rely on the tankers of the state to bring in petroleum products as tankers from other states do not want to take risk, Somen continued.

Despite the hardships and responsibilities shouldered by the state tankers, IOCL is not considering their demands to make some amendment in the tender process and contract norms, he alleged. Demanding IOCL to fulfil their demands in the larger interest of the general public of the state, Somen informed that they will continue their cease work strike until and unless their demands are met.

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