Low LPG supply in Sikkim triggers crisis

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Gangtok, Sep 26 (UNI) Supply of LPG into Sikkim has hit an all time low this month due to continued transportation problems along NH 31 at Raiganj, North Dinajpur in West Bengal triggering huge crisis in cooking gas in the Himalayan state.

Serpentine queues before State Trading Corporation of Sikkim (STCS), the governmental agency distributing gas cylinders in the state, have been a daily sight for the past fortnight and many consumers go back empty handed due to poor stocks.

According to STCS, the restrictions imposed by the army, manning the newly bailey bridge at Raiganj for vehicles above eight tonnes have resulted in the low supply of cooking gas in Sikkim. The state receives its gas supply from Barouni in Bihar thorough Raiganj route.

A month ago, old bailey bridge had collapsed and the army erected a temporary bridge for restoring links between North Bengal and Bihar.

''Army is not allowing vehicles above eight tonnes to pass the bridge as a result our gas supplies have come down drastically,'' said Menla Ethanpa, general manager, STCS. Oil tankers usually weigh around 12-13 tonnes.

Hundreds of tankers are presently stranded at Raiganj.

''We have received only 15 trucks of LPG cylinders (252) each for the month of September compared to the usual 50 trucks per month,'' Mr Ethanpa said.

He said the oil depot at Mazitar near Rangpo has the capacity to cater to only two days as per the present requirements which have increased.

Presently, one to two trucks of LPG cylinders manage to arrive to STCS on a daily basis that is being distributed to consumers on the waiting list that is expanding day by day as the festival season approaches.

Meanwhile, state Chief Secretary N D Chinappa has requested the concerned Ministry to allow transportation of LPG raw materials from Assam to overcome the Raiganj hurdle.

UNI

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