West Bengal: Tankers' strike called off, for now
Kolkata, Jan 30: Ending the six day ordeal West Bengal TankersAssociation today called off their indefinite strike following arequest made by Transport Minister Subash Chakraborty, albeit with arider.
Announcing this following a meeting with the minister associationgeneral secreatary Ajit Das however, said they had only deferred theiragitation for 15 days abetting a better transportation rate from thePSU oil companies.
''We have decided to keep in abeyance the strike for 15 daysconsidering the hardship of the people with many of the petrol pumps inthe state going dry. The minister has also requested us. But we are notsigning any agreement with the companies right now,''Mr Das toldreporters.
The tanker operators had gone for an indefinite strike on January25 demanding the rate for carrying oil from depots to petrol pumps tobe almost doubled.
While the present rate was at Rs 110 per km, the oil companiesyesterday announced an increased of Rs 122.77 per km after a tripartitemeeting convened by the transport minister failed to break thedeadlock.
But insisting that the hike was not enough to compensate for theloses they were making the operators stuck to their demand for a higherrate.
Mr Chakroborty, who had blamed the oil companies for thecontinuing impasse promised petroleum minister Murli Deora to end thestrike today itself after the union minister rang him up expressingconcern over the situation in the state.
It was learnt in today's meeting that the transport minister hadrequested the tanker operators to accept a rate of Rs 130 per km ifoffered by the oil companies. About 1500 petrol pumps in West Bengalgasped for gas as the indefinite strike by tanker operators continuedfor the fifth day today without any immediate sign of solution eventhough the oil offered a ten per cent hike on the existingtransportation rates.
The announcement for the increased rate, the highest in allmetros, was made by Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) shortly after atripartite meeting failed as West Bengal Tankers Association(WBTA)insisted on almost doubling the existing rate.
With 300 petrol pumps in the city and 1200 in districts going dry,a sizable number of private buses, taxis and mini buses went off theroad, while vehicles were seen queueing up for refuelling.
" The transporters declined to accept the best rate oftransportation offered among all metros and stuck to their demand formore, which is totally uncalled for and unjustified, " IOC DeputyGeneral Manager (Corporate Communication), ER, Gautam Datta said whilespeaking on behalf of the oil companies.
He further said while the tankers' associations in five otherplaces in West Bengal had signed new tenders at lower hikes, those fromBudge Budge and Mourigram had not agreed to the hike that made it thehighest of the country.
The tankers have signed deals at a raise of 8.9 per cent in Haldiaand Rajdanga, 1.5 per cent at Siliguri, 3.2 per cent at Maldah and 1.4per cent in Hashimara.