M’laya stares at fuel crisis

Assam petroleum workers’ union stops supply citing security issues

SHILLONG/ GUWAHATI, Nov 24: Meghalaya is staring at an imminent fuel crisis with the Assam Petroleum Mazdoor Union (APMU) issuing a statement that it has stopped carrying petroleum supplies to Meghalaya due to security issues.
The Petrol Pump Dealers’ Association of Meghalaya stated that the current stock would last two more days resulting in panic-buying of fuel by citizens. The East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner (Supply) also issued an order directing every fuel station in the district to keep a reserve stock of 3,000 litres of motor spirit and 5,000 litres of high speed diesel for emergency use.
The order anticipated that in view of the current scenario the inflow of motor spirit and high speed diesel is likely to be affected and directed the refilling stations not to sell fuel without due authorisation slip issued by the office of the DC (Supply). It also directed the fuel stations to submit the daily stock position of motor spirit high speed diesel to the office.
There was a mad rush of people at petrol pumps since Thursday afternoon. People were seen making beelines to buy fuel. By evening, all petrol pumps were jam-packed.
Even as people scampered to buy fuel, the East Khasi Hills district authorities said the concerns expressed by oil companies/distributors/tanker drivers from outside the state are being addressed to ensure that petroleum supplies reach the district and the public do not suffer.
Sanchet Sureka, general secretary of the Petrol Pump Dealers’ Association of Meghalaya (PPDAM), said almost all petrol pumps in Shillong are working at full capacity and there should not be any problem for the next two days.
He alleged the APMU creates problems from time to time.
“I don’t think there is any reason for stopping supply for Meghalaya,” he said and urged the government to intervene into the matter.
Stating that a communication from the PPDAM has gone to the Indian Oil Corporation and the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), Sureka said the IOC is trying to have a conversation with the APMU. He was hopeful the matter would be resolved soon.
Earlier in the day, the APMU had requested the HPCL to stop loading fuel for Meghalaya, stating the situation is abnormal in Ri-Bhoi, Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills and its members are afraid of going to the state.
The union said it would not carry the supply until and unless the Meghalaya government assures safety of its members.
West Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner Swapnil Tembe has urged residents of Tura to not panic-buy petrol and diesel.
“We urge all residents to not panic buy petrol and diesel stock. All the necessary security arrangements for the smooth movement of oil tankers have been assured by the government and shall be ensured by the district administration and police,” said the post by the DC.
He further added that the supply department was keeping a close watch on the stock and the administration would ensure continuous availability of fuel.
Meanwhile, the Hynniewtrep Integrated Territorial Organisation (HITO) has written to Binod Tiwari, president of APMU, stating that the people of Meghalaya, including pressure groups and civil society, hold no grudge against any person from the sister states of the Northeast since the fight was against the governments of Assam and Meghalaya.
“Your organisation’s decision to stop your fuel tankers from plying to/through Meghalaya on explainable security concerns is, however, uncalled for as such action will only result in creating more hardship for the people of our state who are not at all to be blamed for the present situation,” HITO wrote.
“As suggested by you, that if the state government of Meghalaya assures that all your security concerns are adequately addressed accordingly, normal traffic of delivery of fuel will continue, I assure you that we will leave no stone unturned to prevail on the government to respond to this plea by declaring publicly that such action has been guaranteed for the smooth functioning of all fuel-related businesses, especially fuel stations across the state,” the letter further read.

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