Gujarat to invoke ESMA against striking LPG dealers

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Vadodara, Nov 8 (UNI) Gujarat Civil Supplies Minister Narottam Patel today warned that his government would invoke provisions of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) unless the LPG dealers withdraw their proposed state-wide indefinite strike from November 10.

''The strike call given by the Gujarat unit of the All India LPG Distributors' Federation demanding withdrawal of licence system was illegal and unjustified,'' the minister told newspersons on the sidelines of the party workers' Shnehmilan Samaroh at Anand.

Issuing a stern warning to the 500-odd agitating LPG gas dealers in the state, Mr Patel said all the state machineries had been geared up to deal with the situation if the dealers went on an indefinite strike from Monday.

With the dealers remaining firm on their strike programme, the state government had directed all district collectors and civil supply departments to chalk out an action plan with the help of its fair price shops to ensure supply of cooking gas cylinders to the customers across the state.

Meanwhile, official sources claimed that over 50 of the 500-odd LPG dealers in Gujarat had decided not to join the strike call given by the federation. In Vadodara, six of the total 41 LPG dealers had promised to continue their operation after a meeting with the district authorities here. According to district collector Vijay Nehra, all necessary steps had been taken to effectively deal with the situation if at all the dealers went on strike.

The state government had re-introduced the licence system for LPG dealers in the state in February with a view to curb black marketing of LPG gas and other irregularities in gas distribution. The dealders on the other hand opposed the licence system which made it mandatory for them to obtain a licence under the Gujarat Essential Commodities (Licensing Control and Stock Limit) Order.

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