Oil transporters movement in IOC‘s New Jalpaiguri terminal depot in West Bengal is pushing many vital establishments including defence set ups, airports as well as neighbouring country Bhutan or Nepal towards fuel starvation.
Difference of opinion between two groups of oil tanker owners is at the root cause. One of them, supported by state ruling party TMC sponsored trade Union INTTUC, has kept the terminal gate blocked for the last three days and not allowing tankers to move in. The other, not supporting the blockade, is trying to disperse the first group.
“We could not supply oil since last Saturday. But it has started taking a positive turn following district administration’s intervention today. There will be more rounds of meetings to resolve the issue,” said K. K. Bala, Manager of the vital IOC terminal that supplies 130 million litres of oil a month.
While justifying own standpoint, INTTUC leader Prasenjit Roy said, “We oppose the transportation tariff structure of 2020 offered by IOC that is lesser than 2014 structure. It is a big blow to over 500 workers and owners of over 200 tankers attached to this terminal.” IOC offers a fresh tariff structure once in every five years.
But, “We find the offered rate as good enough,” said Kajal Sarkar, leader of the other faction of transporters.
Beside supplying over 300 petrol pumps in 7 districts, NJP terminal serves many important establishments including Bagdogra International Airport that is utilized by both civil aviation and Indian Air Force.
Indian Army 33 corps, which looks after Sino-Indian border, is fuelled by the same terminal. Large portions of land locked Bhutan or Nepal’s oil requirements are also fed by NJP terminal. Worried about the situation, Bhutan Govt has already urged IOC top brass to intervene.
As per IOC officials, the rate offered by them is almost the same as other PSU Oil Companies in the same area. Notably, it is much higher than the rates of private oil companies.
“Though taken an apparent lighter shape today, the crisis will flare up again as a wide spread major chaos if IOC cannot find any concrete solution of this soon,” said North Bengal Petrol Dealers Association President Shyamal Palchoudhury.