Kerala sees supply crunch on third day of oil strike

January 9th, 2009 - 1:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghThiruvananthapuram, Jan 9 (IANS) With the officials of public sector oil firms starting the third day of their strike for higher wages, Kerala Friday saw a supply crunch as long winding queues were seen in a few petrol pumps while many went dry. “Close to 80 percent of the nearly 2,000 petrol pumps in the state are dry,” president of Kerala State Federation of Petroleum Traders Alex Valakalil told IANS.

He said the fuel available in a few petrol pumps would be over by noon Friday.

“As no fuel is coming out of the refinery, the situation would be grave by tomorrow (Saturday). If the strike prolongs, then supply of cooking gas could also come to an end,” he added.

“If something does not happen by tomorrow (Saturday), it would be chaos,” said Valakalil.

He said Pathanamthitta district will witness a lot of problems due to the peak Sabarimala temple season.

An angry petrol pump owner said: “The government is sitting idle. It should wake up and come to the aid of the people who have started getting restless. They turn their ire towards us.”

Meanwhile, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday morning to intervene and settle the strike at the earliest.

State Civil Supplies Minister C. Divakaran said: “We will make arrangements to lift stock from refineries and priority will be given to State Transport Department and Sabarimala pilgrims. We will also step in to see that fuel is not supplied in cans as this could be used for black marketing.”

He said all the petrol pumps having fuel stock will be asked to sell a maximum of five litres for two and three wheelers while four wheelers will get a maximum of 10 liters.

A high level meeting was chaired by Divakaran and State Transport Minister Mathew T. Thomas Friday.

The director general of police has also been directed to see that all arrangements are made for safe transport of fuel from the oil companies’ godowns to petrol filling stations.

More than 45,000 officers of the 14 public sector oil companies started an indefinite strike Wednesday demanding a hike in salary.

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