Fuel shortage cripples Mumbai

January 9th, 2009 - 11:53 am ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Jan 9 (ANS) A majority of fuel-starved autorickshaws, taxis, schoolbuses and private vehicles in India’s financial capital remained off the roads Friday morning, putting millions of residents to hardship.The worst-hit in the morning were millions of office-goers, school and college students who were stranded at various points around the city in the absence of transport.

Although the bus service BEST managed to keep its fleet running, chaos prevailed as the buses were jampacked, forcing many people to walk down to the nearest railway station.

State Food and Civil Supplies Minister Ramesh Bang said that the government had already issued notification to ensure that the movement of essential supplies around the state was not affected.

“The district authorities have been directed to provide adequate security to trucks and vehicles carrying essential supplies of daily use and ensure that fuel arrangements are also made for them,” Bang told IANS Friday morning.

According to the Mantralaya (state government secretariat) Control Room, so far there have been no reports of any disruption in movement of essential supplies from any part of the state.

However, shortages have begun to affect the common man as the striking oil company employees failed to heed Chief Minister Ashok Chavan’s warning to end their agitation by 9 a.m. Friday.

Thursday night, the state government had threatened to invoke the provisions of the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) if the agitation continued.

A spokesman for the Bombay Taximen’s Association said that over 70 percent of the cabs in Mumbai have run out of CNG, so they are compelled to remain off the roads. Even after the agitation is called off, it would take at least three days for the situation to normalise, the spokesman said.

Minakshi Baikar, a Dahisar housewife, was struggling to keep the kitchen fire burning. “Unluckily, my gas cylinder got over Wednesday night. The local gas supply agent does not know when supplies will come. Meanwhile, we are forced to buy kerosene from the black market for cooking,” she lamented.

Many schools, especially those following the ICSE and CBSE systems, are holding third semester examinations. Panic-stricken parents were seen literally jogging to the schools with their children to reach the schools on time.

“I have a scooter and a car, but no petrol. There are no autorickshaws, buses are jampacked. Since we’re getting late, my daughter and I jogged one kilometre to Cambridge School this morning,” said Pankaj J., a realty consultant.

Some people have decided to pool vehicles to save petrol.

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