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PM asks Deora to take firm action against oil strike

PM asks Deora to take firm action against oil strike
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First Published: Fri, Jan 09 2009. 03 57 PM IST
Updated: Fri, Jan 09 2009. 03 57 PM IST
New Delhi: With the country facing acute fuel shortage because of the indefinite strike by oil PSUs officers, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday asked petroleum minister Murli Deora to take firm action to deal with the crisis.
“The minister of petroleum and natural gas and secretary has been instructed by the Prime Minister to take firm action,” home minister P Chidambaram told reporters after a meeting of the Cabinet, which was briefed on the situation on Friday morning.
Chidambaram, who has been asked by the PM to head a committee to resolve the grievances of the oil PSUs officers, said the Centre has advised state governments to take firm action.
“Firm action is being taken and will be taken,” he added.
The crisis management group headed by cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar took certain decisions to deal with the situation, he said.
“Those decisions have been communicated to the state governments as well as to other authorities and those decisions will be implemented,” Chidambaram said without elaborating.
The home minister said the oil PSU officers should not “cripple” the economy and should be resorting to strike as the government has an open mind to address their grievances related to pay revisions.
While the strike entered the third day, with long queues at several petrol pumps, government was non-committal whether the situation could be brought under control immediately.
“I cannot promise there will not be shortage anywhere but every effort is being made to handle the crisis,” he said.
He also said HPCL was functioning normally, while BPCL was working 70% till Friday Morning and is “likely to improve”.
Officers of HPCL and largely of BPCL have realised that strike was not the way to go about pressing their demands, he added.
“I wish to keep an open mind... My appeal to them is I am willing to hold the first meeting even today. They must come to meet me.
“They must call off their strike. They must recognise the intolerable burden they are placing on the people of India. If LPG is not available, how will families cook food for their children? If diesel is not available how will cars, buses run?” he said.
Govt flexes muscles as oil officials’ strike tests patience
The union government has put an end to civilities and advised states to arrest any oil sector officer who is not working or disrupting services, as a strike by the officers association stretched to the third day on Friday.
The Crisis Management Group met early on Friday morning to discuss deploying army at supply installations so that petrol and diesel tankers are loaded and despatched to petrol pumps, which were running dry across the country for lack of refills.
Asked whether the cabinet has decided to act tough against the striking officers, petroleum secretary RS Pandey retorted: “Stop these understatements. The states have been asked to arrest any officer not working or disrupting functioning in this critical sector.”
Petroleum minister Murli Deora also briefed the Prime Minister and the Cabinet on the emerging crisis.
“Cabinet showed total solidarity with the ministry and oil companies. We have been given a mandate to use all resources available with the government to restore supplies,” said Deora.
Secretary Pandey had said that the ministry was not going to invite the officers for talks again and it has done enough of appealing.
CPM asks Govt to start talks with striking oil PSU officials
Kochi: The CPI(M) on Friday demanded the Centre to start negotiations immediately with the striking officers of Oil PSUs and withdraw ‘punitive´ actions initiated against them as disruption of oil supplies was not in the country’s interest.
“Oil is a very critical sector and government must immediately start negotiations with officers’ associations and striking employees,” CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said while briefing reporters on the resolution adopted by the ongoing central committee of the party on the issue.
“This is a very crucial time when we are embroiled in the fight against terrorism and many developments are taking place on that front. At this juncture, any disruption of oil supplies is not in the country’s interest,” he said.
Condemning the “repressive” measures unleashed by the Centre upon the striking officers of 14 oil PSUs in the country since 7 January, he alleged the government had “failed” to address their long standing demand of wage revision reneging on its assurances at least on three occasions in the past, “compelling” employees to go on strike.
Maharashtra | Fuel shortage hits Mumbai, panic situation feared
The city is facing a crisis situation, with petrol pumps going virtually dry as the strike by officers of oil companies entered the third day on Friday.
“Many outlets are going dry even as we speak. The number is too huge,” Indian Oil Corp executive director (corporate communications) N Srikumar said.
Vehicle owners have embarked on a panic buying spree and queued up at retail outlets across the city asking for their cars to be filled to the brim with fuel, petrol dealers said, adding this was aggravating the situation.
“Instead of tanking up the vehicles, we are trying to ration out the fuel. This is a law-and-order situation. About 85 per cent of petrol pumps in the city have shut shop,” Petroleum Dealers Association (Mumbai) President Ravi Shinde said.
A Bharat Petroleum spokesperson said it intends to dispatch some more petrol and diesel stock, like Thursday.
“We would be dispatching some 60 per cent of petrol and diesel of the average daily requirement of Mumbai,” he said, adding that there are serpentine queues at BPCL outlets.
The company said some of its pumps have gone dry, but did not give more details.
Karnataka | Strike hits fuel supply
Nearly 80% of the 300 odd petrol pumps in the city have been affected with the ongoing strike by oil PSU executives entering third day on Friday. “Nearly 80% of the pumps have been impacted,” according to Bhushan Narang, president of the Bangalore Petroleum Dealers Association.
With the Hindustan Petroleum pumps functioning normally, he dismissed apprehensions that the city would run completely dry. Huge queues continued to be witnessed at petrol bunks which had supply, he said.
Kerala | Strike hits life hard
With the ongoing strike by oil PSU executives entering third day on Friday, 95% of the petrol stations in Ernakulam district have stopped operations following shortage of fuel.
Vehicles queued up before few pumps, which were open right from the Friday morning, sometimes even disrupting traffic.
Kerala Petroleum Dealers Association sources here quoted the pump owners as saying that the situation was bad, indicating hard days ahead for the consumers.
In the district out of the 175 petrol pumps, 95% ran out of stocks, the sources said.
West Bengal | Fuel rationing in Kolkata
Kolkata: West Bengal will ration transport fuels as a strike by officials at state-run oil firms entered a third day on Friday, slashing supplies.
“We will ration 10 litres of petrol for private cars, and buses can take up to 50 litres,” the state’s chief secretary, AM Chakraborty, told reporters.
Andhra Pradesh| Strike hits petrol products supply
The indefinite strike by the Public Sector Unit (PSU) executives in the oil sector has taken a toll in Andhra Pradesh as 90% of petrol pumps went dry in the state.
The situation was much graver in major cities like Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and other towns as hundred of vehicles were withdrawn from roads due to no supply of petrol or diesel.
Serpentine queue was also witnessed in the petrol pumps across the state.
In twin cities, few petrol pumps, which has some stock, were unable to cope up with the demand.
The supplies were regulated under police supervision, the Petrol Dealers’ Association spokesman said.
If the supply of fuel products are not restored immediately the situation will go bad to worst as the supply of LPG is more important. There are very few cylinders left with the dealers, he said.
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First Published: Fri, Jan 09 2009. 03 57 PM IST