Day 5 of truck strike triggers LPG crisis

With the transport operators’ nationwide strike entering fifth day,the city faces the prospect of acute shortage of LPG.

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata | Published:January 10, 2009 2:31 am

With the transport operators’ nationwide strike entering fifth day,the city faces the prospect of acute shortage of LPG. The strike called by officers of PSU oil companies has only worsened the situation.

Kolkata has a little over 90 LPG distributors of IOCL,Bharat Gas and HP gas. Fifty per cent of the distributors belong to IOCL while HP gas accounts for about 15 per cent of the total LPG supply.

LPG distributors in Kolkata said that with the fifth day of the strike their stocks were fast diminishing.

M/s Alladin situated on Andul Road near Howrah has 12,000 customers in its list. “We have a demand of about 300 cylinders per day. But for the past three days we have not got any supply. As of today,I am left with 80 cylinders that will be exhausted tomorrow,” said Susmita Chakraborty,proprietor of the outlet.

“The distributors are under pressure and if the strike is not withdrawn in a day or two,there will be a crisis situation in the city. Forty per cent of our customers have single cylinders. These are the people who will face the brunt of the situation first,” said Bijoy Biswas,general secretary,All India LPG Distribution Federation,West Bengal. He added that besides household consumers,there were commercial consumers like hospitals,hotels and restaurants.

LPG in Kolkata is bottled and dispersed from five primary locations in Budge Budge,Durgapur,Haldia,Kalyani and Raninagar. “At present we are getting supplies from HP and the IOC units at Haldia,says Biswas.

M/s Chayanika of Ranikuthi was functioning under pressure till Friday.

“I have 18,000 customers and need anything between 600 to 700 cylinders everyday. Though we had a stock for two days,today I am left with just three cylinders. I had to close the shop at 11 am today instead of the regular time of 2 pm,” said proprietor Gita Pal.

“Usually I get a cylinder within three days of booking. But this time I have not got it even in seven days,” says Jayati Mukherjee,a resident of Bansdroni. Similar is the condition of Kitchen Queen of Beliaghata.

“One truck contains 306 cylinders and most outlets need one or two trucks on a daily basis. Even after the strike is withdrawn,we will need two to three days to resume normal services,as a huge backlog has been created,” said a senior manager of Indian Oil Corporation.

Essential goods become more expensive
Prices of essential commodities have soared even as truckers threatened to continue their strike. Retailers are unhappy at the turn of events as they are forced to buy commodities from wholesalers at a high rate. The wholesale rate of eggs became expensive by Rs 40,said retailers. “We have got some supplies till today,but associations that are not participating in the strike are quoting astronomical prices for the commodities,” said Omprakash Gupta,a retailer. They added that retail profit margin has slumped by three times. Meanwhile,members of Calcutta Goods Transport Association are expected to meet UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

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