NONGPOH: Peeved at the current shortage of petroleum and diesel in the state following the ‘Mazdoor strike’ (workers stir) triggered by the assault of the staff at Indian Oil Cooperation pump on Shillong bypass, the Khasi Students’ Union, North Khasi Hills District have expressed grave concern and reiterated their demand for installation of an oil depot within the state.
Speaking to The Shillong Times, Ferdynald K. Kharkamni, KSU NKHD Unit President, said that, the Union after getting numerous complaints about the sudden shortage of petroleum and diesel supplies within the state and other district had expressed its concern over the situation and also called upon the state government to take immediate step to ease the current situation of the public.
Reviving its stand, the Union had once raised the issue on the need to have an oil depot within the state, in which the Union had also served with the memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner of Ri Bhoi District raising the concern and opposition to the decision of the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) for dismantling the existing Petroleum Storage Depot located near ICAR, Shillong Bypass Umiam to converting it to a Retail Petrol Pump.
Kharkamni also mentioned about the Storage Depot which is built on a plot of land handed to the Assam Oil Division of the Indian Oil Corporation sometimes between the years 1992-1993. The agreement was signed between Meghalaya Government, the locality, landowner and Assam Oil strictly for the purpose of opening a Storage Depot and the same had been cleared by the Revenue Department, Government of Meghalaya.
Recalling over the memorandum submitted to the then Deputy Commissioner of Ri Bhoi, Dr Pooja Pandey earlier during the month of September, 2015, Kharkamni mentioned that the main objective of handing over this land to the Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) was to ensure proper storage of Petroleum Products in the State of Meghalaya so as to take care of uninterrupted supplies in case of any disruption due to maintenance works, strikes by the Assam based Petroleum Mazdoor Union, frequent bandhs in Assam and as well saved upto 4% (presently 2%) of Central Sales Tax (CST) elements to the consumer.
“This Petroleum, Oil & Lubricants (POL) storage depot was commissioned in the year 1995 and has been running smoothly till 2010 without any hindrance from any quarters. It has the capacity to take care of about 2 (two) months of stock of Petroleum, Oil & Lubricants (POL) products including kerosene, in case of any shortage of supplies. Since the billing is also done from this depot, our local consumers are getting benefits of Central Sales Tax (CST) elements and thereby keeping track on price escalation of essential commodities, fares etc.,” Kharkamni reiterated.
However, due to unknown reasons and against the wish of the Government of Meghalaya, this depot suddenly stopped functioning from May 2010. Asserting their demands for retention and reopening of the oil depot, the KSU leader said the state was dependent on Road Transport, thus it was very important to have our own Petroleum Storage Depot and keeping two-months Petroleum, Oil & Lubricants (POL) stocks would be beneficial for the state, which would also take care of crisis situation like the present one, he added.