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Oil PSU strike on; petrol, LPG crisis looms

CNN-IBN
Jan 09, 2009 at 05:10pm IST

New Delhi: Petrol, diesel and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) supplies may run dry soon as an indefinite nationwide strike by oil public sector unit (PSU) officers continues for the third day on Friday.

Petrol pumps across the country are running out of stock with the truckers strike making matter worse.

ALSO SEE Govt-oil PSU workers talks fail, strike continues

A meeting between striking members of the oil PSU and the Petroleum Ministry including Petroleum Minister Murli Deora ended inconclusively early on Friday morning. The meeting which was being held at the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) residential complex in Noida lasted for over three hours but failed to break the deadlock.

"We regret the inconvenience caused to the public. We are trying to resolve the issues with the Oil Sector Officers' Association (OSOA). I have not made it a prestige issue and I am willing to talk to anyone towards resolving the crisis," Deora said.

ALSO SEE 50,000 officers of oil PSU cos go on indefinite strike

Deora is likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday afternoon on the issue after a meeting of the Union Cabinet in the morning.

OSOA stuck to its stand for immediate sanction of higher wages in 14 PSUs.

"The meeting has been inconclusive the strike will continue. Our demands are very small. Oil companies will have to bear an extra cost of only Rs 75 to 100 crore per month," claimed Amit Verma, President, OSOA.

Flights, too, have been delayed as refuelling services have been affected because of the absence of workers.

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC) and the IOC have sacked 64 and three officers each respectively for going on strike.

In Delhi over 85 per cent of the pumps went without petrol and diesel, while in Mumbai, nearly 60 per cent outlets put up 'No Stock' signboards. In Mumbai, CNG supplies to automobiles and piped cooking gas to the households was shut following the ONGC officers stopping the gas production.

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CNG pumps were operating in Delhi, but may run dry by the weekend, as they are running on the gas that is already in the pipeline. Once that exhausts, CNG operations would stop in Delhi as well.

Similarly, in Kolkata, 30 per cent of the pumps were closed, and in Chandigarh, only 10 per cent outlets were operational. Out of the 75 petrol pumps in Bhopal, 60 were closed, while in Patna only 15 out of 50 pumps were open.

Long queues of vehicles were seen in a number of cities as drivers queued to refill petrol and gas and some pumps rationed fuel.

At the airports, absence of officers led to delay in refuelling of airplanes and some flight were delayed.

Delhi, Assam, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have invoked Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) to ensure uninterrupted fuel supplies.

Delhi and Uttar Pradesh Police raided an IOC premises in Noida where OSOA leaders had gathered after hiding for two days but no one including President Amit Verma could be arrested as they made good escape during the lien the company management took from them to conclude talks.

Two ONGC officers arrested on Wednesday were released by the court on condition that they give an undertaking not to strike or instigate it.

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