The strike by fuel tankers was withdrawn on Saturday afternoon as the Indian Oil Corp put on hold the new transportation rates amid a crisis at hundreds of filling stations in south Bengal, their association said. Hundreds of fuel pumps in south Bengal, including Kolkata, ran dry due to the strike that began on Thursday evening, dealers said.
The tankers' association at IOC's Mourigram depot in Howrah, which serves the region, was on strike over the reduction in fuel transportation rates as a new tender was floated. "IOC extended the existing rates so that more negotiations can take place and normal supply can be maintained," West Bengal Tankers' Association's Mourigram unit secretary Rajkumar Chatterjee told PTI.
An IOC spokesperson confirmed that the strike was withdrawn but did not divulge the details of the deal struck with the fuel transporters. The strike affected around 900-1,000 fuel pumps in the region, impacting public transport, movement of essential supplies and private vehicles, the dealers said.
The strike was withdrawn at a time the IOC was planning to rush fuel to a few pumps from its Haldia and other depots to meet the demand in Kolkata, South 24 Parganas, Nadia, Howrah, Hooghly and North 24 Parganas — the urban agglomerate. IOC has fuel depots in Haldia, Durgapur, Mourigram, Malda and Siliguri in the state.
The tankers' association was also protesting against the termination of services of 60 tankers. "When costs are spiralling, how can IOC slash the fuel transportation rates? They also terminated services of 60 tankers in their new tender," association secretary Chatterjee said.
"The survival of many people is associated with these tankers," he added. The IOC spokesperson earlier said that similar tenders were floated even for Siliguri, Durgapur, Haldia and Malda terminals in the last one year.
"Such a tender is floated every five years for the deployment of tank trucks and the last one was floated in 2014. The tender was due since April 2020, which was deferred due to requests from the transporters on account of the pandemic," he said.