4 NE states including Meghalaya to face gas crisis amid Strike

4 NE states including Meghalaya to face gas crisis amid Strike

Guwahati: Around 8.4 lakh LPG consumers in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh will face shortage of cooking gas as transporters, represented by the North East Packed LPG Transporters Association (NEPALTA) has started an indefinite non-cooperation strike from December 4.
Amidst the crisis, Indian Oil Corporation Limited’s (IOCL) Assam Oil Division (AOD) on December 7 claimed that the demands of LPG transporters were misleading.

For four days, the NEPLTA persists in its non-cooperation stir, causing a halt in LPG transport and affecting supply to Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and Mizoram. All 851 gas agencies in Assam are shut due to the absence of LPG cylinder supply.

“There has been no supply of cylinders for four days. It is difficult for us to deal with the situation. We need 600 cylinders daily. We have 20,000 consumers,” said Naren Deka, manager, Shankardeva Gas Agency, sixmile.

The transportation of LPG cylinders from six bottling plants in Assam – Mirza (Kamrup), Gopalnari (Tinsukia), Dhaligaon (Bongaigaon), North Guwahati (Kamrup Metro), Duliajan (Dibrugarh), and Silchar – has come to a grinding halt for the past four days due to the strike.

The strike has not impacted the Nagaon bottling plant’s operations in the private sector. Additionally, there is no effect on the three bottling plants located in Dimapur (Nagaland), Agartala (Tripura), and Imphal (Manipur).

The Dimapur bottling plant provides LPG cylinders to Nagaland and certain areas of Manipur. Meanwhile, the Agartala plant serves Tripura, and the Silchar plant supplies LPG cylinders to Mizoram. As of now, these operations remain unaffected by the strike.

Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Mizoram are solely dependent on Assam’s bottling plants as the IOCL bottling plants in these states are yet to be commissioned.

“There is no question of withdrawing the strike. The IOCL has to call us for a meeting to discuss the issue. Without discussion, we can’t call off the strike,” said Sanjiv Choudhury, joint secretary, NEPLTA.

4 NE states including Meghalaya to face gas crisis amid Strike

“We gave prior information that we would go on strike from December 4. But they told us to call off the strike and participate in the public tender. If we participate in the tender process, they will not release our old dues,” Choudhury said.

“The tender rate is lower than the rate of 2011. We can’t work at such a rate. LPG transportation is becoming more cost-effective. In the last five years, the company has had to pay Rs 2 crore to each transporter,” Choudhury added.

Assam Oil Division (AOD) of the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) produces 1.4 lakh LPG cylinders every day from its 10 bottling plants across the Northeast. Of them, the flash strike has affected six plants in Assam having a combined output of 1.1 lakh cylinders per day.

“There are 84 lakh LPG consumers across the Northeast, of which 63 lakh are from Assam. If the strike is not withdrawn immediately, the shortage of cylinders will be felt by the end of this week,” a senior official of IOCL-AOD said.

“We have already appealed to the NEPLTA to call off the strike as it is detrimental to the interests of the public. The strike has affected essential supplies to consumers, hospitals, schools, and industries, resulting in inconvenience to the public at large,” the official said.

The IOCL also urged the NEPLTA to uphold national and state interests and avoid disruption of essential services in Assam.

NEPLTA president Niranjan Mahanta said, “We requested the IOCL to cancel the tender notice, but no response was received from their side. Hence, we have been compelled to go on strike.”

“Since 2014, IOCL has not revised the transportation rates for which the transporters have to bear the financial loss,” Mahanta said.

Meanwhile, IOCL claimed that it is not a strike but a cessation of vehicle operations due to pending dues since 2018.

“All pending toll dues have been duly cleared by Indian Oil, and no outstanding bills remain for payment. Payments for differential RTKMs at Silchar BP have been released. However, the delay in payments for other locations is a result of NEPLTA representatives not participating in the joint verification exercise, hindering the resolution process,” said Krishnendu Chaudhuri GM (corporate communications), Eastern Regional Office, IOCL.

“NEPLTA’s assertion that they are not on strike is contradicted by their actions. They are not only refraining from operating their vehicles but also preventing other willing transporters from entering the LPG plants to receive supplies. NEPLTA members are actively picketing at the plant gates, demonstrating a clear disruption in operations,” Chaudhuri said.

“Contrary to NEPLTA’s claim, tenders with higher rates, accounting for escalations in the price index, were floated multiple times (August-September 2018, August 2020, April 2021, and July 2022). Unfortunately, each attempt to finalize tenders was thwarted by various demands raised by NEPLTA,” Chaudhuri also said.

He said the latest tenders were floated with a substantial hike over the existing rates and were mutually accepted after consultation and concurrence with the Assam government. NEPLTA, having initially reached a consensus, later raised objections to the tender and initiated a strike by introducing new issues.

“Indian Oil urges NEPLTA to reconsider their position and engage in meaningful dialogue to find a resolution that benefits all stakeholders. We maintain our unwavering commitment to a fair and transparent process that fosters mutual resolution of differences to ensure a seamless and uninterrupted energy solution across the country,” he added.

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