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AASU lifts OIL strike

Jorhat, March 5: The All Assam Students’ Union this evening called off its 300-hour strike against Oil India Limited (OIL) temporarily following “requests from various quarters” who appealed to the students’ union to do so in the interest of common people.

The strike was called by AASU against the petroleum giant in protest against alleged anomalies in a recruitment drive to fill up vacancies of 300-odd unskilled workers’ posts recently.

The general secretary of AASU’s Dibrugarh district unit, Sarat Saikia, told this correspondent that several organisations and the Dibrugarh district administration had requested AASU to call off the strike as the common people were suffering.

“The strike has added to the dismal power scenario in the state because of less supply of gas by OIL to the thermal power projects and North East Electric Power Corporation Ltd (Neepco). So we have decided to call off our agitation,” Saikia said.

He added that if the scheduled talks with OIL failed on Saturday, the students’ union would launch a similar strike against the company.

Till this afternoon, activities of OIL remained suspended for the sixth day. A team of senior OIL officials, led by director (HR) Nripen Bharali, arrived at the company’s field headquarters at Duliajan in Dibrugarh today to hold a discussion with leaders of AASU and members of other agitating organisations.

“We have approached the authorities concerned and expressed our desire to hold a tripartite discussion with representatives of the striking organisations. We are hopeful that things would be sorted out following a discussion,” an OIL official had said.

The company had been incurring a loss of Rs 15 crore daily following the strike.

The company also feared that a few oil wells could not be revived following the sudden closure as most of these are over 20 to 30 years old.

The company had suffered a loss of at least Rs 200 crore during the 2012-13 fiscal because of frequent strikes called by several organisations in the three Upper Assam districts of Sivasagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia where the company has oil and gas fields.

Baghjan, Berakuri, Makum, Halfjan and Digboi oil fields in Tinsukia are the most important hydrocarbon reserves of OIL which is the main supplier of gas in the region.

The official said supply of gas to the thermal power projects of the Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB), Neepco and Assam Gas Company Ltd, were affected because of the strike.

Although there were reports of a few incidents of protesters throwing stones and damaging the company’s vehicles in the first few days of the strike, there were no such reports today.

“AASU activists shouted slogans in front of our administrative building today and our workers were prevented from going to the oil fields following which most of the wells have remained unmanned. It has become a security concern and we have informed the authorities,” a senior company official said.