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The strike by LPG tanker owners in the South and the East supplying raw material from oil refineries to bottling plants is threatening to become a pan-India agitation with those in the West set to join them protesting the Centre’s move to change the tender system.
“We are expecting vehicle operators in the West to announce joining the strike. We are yet to hear from our counterparts in the North,” said a source in Namakkal in Tamil Nadu, the hub of LPG tankers in the South.
Nearly, 4,000 LPG tankers, mainly from Namakkal, are off the road from the morning. On the first day of the strike, there was complete stoppage of raw material supply from refineries to bottling plants in the South. However, there was no impact in distribution of LPG cylinders to consumers as distributors have enough stock of filled LPG cylinders for three to four days.
If the strike continued beyond four days, then the entire supply chain will be affected. This means, there will not be distribution of filled LPG gas cylinders to distributors, and in turn to end customers, sources said. “If raw material supply resumes, it will take four to five days to normalise the supply chain,” said an LPG truck owner in Namakkal.
LPG tankers in the South and East began the strike this morning against the oil companies’ plan to float new tenders State-wise as against the present system of region-wise. This means, trucks registered in Tamil Nadu can apply only for those loading centres, and not across the region.
Sources in Namakkal said that based on forecast made by oil companies in a pre-tender meeting in March, truckers in Namakkal have purchased nearly 3,000 new vehicles. However, if the new tender conditions are implemented, these trucks will become redundant, they said. Further, oil companies plan to hire more high capacity (21 tonnes) vehicles whereas nearly 95 per cent of trucks in Namakkal are 18 tonnes. This will affect LPG tanker industry in Namakkal badly, sources said.
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