The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Strike dries fuel pumps

More than half the city’s petrol stations ran dry on Wednesday as employees of oil majors HPCL, BPCL and Indian Oil struck work. According to the West Bengal Petroleum Dealers Association, 170 fuel stations of the 237 registered with the organisation ran dry on Wednesday.

The BPCL and HPCL workers called a 72-hour strike from Tuesday against the Centre’s “disinvestment’’ policy. Indian Oil spokesman Deepak Bose said its Citu-affiliated employees’ union had called a 24-hour strike on Wednesday in solidarity with the BPCL and HPCL employees.

“No oil tanker rolled out of our Mourigram filling station on Wednesday,’’ Bose said, but hastened to add that Indian Oil’s 46 affiliated petrol stations in the city were well-stocked on Tuesday. Vehicles formed long queues at petrol stations across the city. Many hung up boards saying: “Sorry, no stock available.’’

Deepak Bose claimed that Indian Oil-affiliated petrol stations functioned “more or less like on normal days’’ on Wednesday. “We have made arrangements for reaching supplies to our stations from 6 am on Thursday,’’ he said.

A spokesperson for HPCL and BPCL said normal supplies are expected to resume from Friday. Authorities said most city petrol stations are affiliated to HPCL. An association spokesman alleged that HPCL and BPCL had stopped supplies from Monday, leading to an acute petrol and diesel shortage.

“Although they struck work from Tuesday, many petrol station-owners affiliated to the HPCL and BPCL complained that they didn’t get their quota on Monday,’’ the spokesman said.

The association spokesman said members will meet soon to take stock of the situation. “We are taking the brunt of public anger. The oil majors should have made an announcement at least three days in advance to allow people to stock petrol,’’ the spokesman added.

West Bengal Petroleum Dealers’ Association representatives on Wednesday called on transport minister Subhas Chakraborty, requesting him to pay Rs 6 crore which the government owed to it for the past year. Chakraborty will take up the matter with finance minister Asim Dasgupta.

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