Supply of gas cylinders across south India could soon be hit, as the Southern Regional Bulk LPG Transport Owners’ Association (SRBLTOA) will go on an indefinite strike from Monday, to protest the change in tender rules for hiring LPG tankers.
The association wants the region wise tender for hiring tankers to continue. The region wise tenders have remained unchanged for three decades now. However, last year, the centre switched to State level tenders for hiring tankers for the next 5 years, according to reports.
The tanker owners’ association, based in Namakkal, Tamil Nadu, urged the three major petroleum companies – Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum – to stick to the old norms and invite region wise tenders. However, on January 23, 2018, the companies started inviting State wise (new) tenders, sparking the protest, according to reports.
The LPG tanker owners’ association comprises of owners from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Puducherry. The decision to go on an indefinite strike was taken in a general body meeting of the association in Namakkal, on Saturday. The strike would most probably affect cooking gas supply in a week.
The transport charges of LPG were fixed every three years when tenders were invited region-wise. The Centre also advised the three petroleum companies to invite tenders state wise for a period of 5 years now.
The SRBLTOA president, M Ponnambalam told the media that some rules of the news norms are detrimental to the trade, will affect their incomes and would reduce financial benefit to the owners.
Why not state wise tenders?
The tanker owners’ association is strongly opposed to this revision as they believe that this may adversely affect their livelihoods and income.
Under the new norms, a tanker registered in one state can only participate in the tenders in that state, and cannot operate in other states.
Further, preference would be given to 21 tonne capacity tankers. This reportedly constitutes only 20% of the 7500 tankers in Chennai. The others are all 18 tonne capacity.
The strike is to get the Centre to take decisions by considering the interest of all stakeholders.
The three gas companies meanwhile have already announced the number of tankers they would need in each state and the union territory of Puducherry. Owners can even download the application forms for the tenders from the company websites and apply. Further, the forms to participate in the tender can be downloaded until March 9 and and should be submitted before March 12.