IMPHAL, July 18: Truck drivers engaged in transportation of domestic LPG cooking gas into the state went on a strike starting today owing to a misunderstanding between the transporters and gas agencies over the issue of supplying expired and condemned LPG cylinders which have been auctioned as scraps.
Talking to media persons in this regard at the Gas bottling plant, Sekmai, the secretary of the Assam Petroleum Majdur union, Naorem Dilip, stated that the 240 trucks presently in service which include 90 gas bullet tanks and 150 domestic gas cylinder carrier trucks, will stay off road until the charges leveled against them is withdrawn by the gas agencies operating in the state.
He further stated that the gas cylinders which have limited life are taken out of circulation through a public auction after having removed the safety valves and after boring holes in them to render them unusable.
According to him recently about three months ago the IOC had auctioned around 816 such cylinders.
However after about a month of the auction, this cylinders instead of going to the refinery as scraps, managed to enter the local markets with some facial make-ups and new nozzles bearing the IOC trademark, he said and added that it was detected following several complaints from enraged consumers.
Meanwhile, the gas agencies started blaming the truckers for the re-entry of the once auctioned LPG cylinders and even demanded from them to bear the payments of the defected cylinders, he further added.
While decrying the charges which he has termed unfounded and declaring that the truckers have no idea about the defected cylinders, he pointed out that replacing the nozzle of a cylinder is not within the capacity of any black marketers or a general layman and asserted that the IOC is the only authorized agency to replace the nozzle.
The secretary further informed that the truckers will abstain from their daily transportation routine until the agencies withdraw the blame against the transporters.
Amidst the deadlock, residence of Kwakeithel Nganapithong panicked this evening as a leaking gas cylinder caught fire at a private residence of Paonam Loken.
However timely intervention of the fire department averted a possible inferno and no major damage was reported due accident but the cylinders and gas stove were destroyed beyond redemption, said the report.
NEWMAI ADDS: The 816 condemned cylinder which are allegedly recirculated in the market was auctioned by Sekmai bottling plant in north Imphal some four months ago. A person from Langol in Imphal reportedly bought all the cylinders and recirculated with minor repairs.
While transporters and agencies of LPG have been engaging in blame game, the Sekmai plant manager CR Das said that the onus lies with the agencies to replace all condemned cylinder making it into the market.
A report from the company also sent out warning to consumers to be vigilant about these expired cylinders that are making it into houses causing serious threat to life and property. This means that distribution of LPG would likely be affected in the coming days.