Coming soon: Fuel, at a pump near you | india | Hindustan Times
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Coming soon: Fuel, at a pump near you

india Updated: Jan 10, 2009 01:22 IST
Anupama Airy

The three-day agitation by 45,000 oil PSU officers for higher wages ended on Friday. The strike, that had crippled fuel supplies across the country, was called off after the government told officers to “either return to work, or be prepared to go to jail.”

The news brought relief to lakhs of consumers who can expect to tank up on Saturday.

Oil companies — Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum — said officers would work over the weekend to ensure pumps have enough supplies to meet customer needs.

“Supplies will normalise by Monday and cooking gas backlogs will be removed in a week’s time,” IOC chairman Sarthak Behuria told Hindustan Times.

The truckers strike, which enters it sixth day on Saturday, is not likely to affect supplies much, since tankers carrying petroleum products are not part of the strike.

To bring back truckers who have been off roads — paralysing movement of goods and essential commodities — since midnight Sunday, the government is impounding their vehicles under the Essential Services Maintenance Act.

Petroleum minister Murli Deora said operations would normalise soon: “Fuel supplies to affected pumps has already begun,” he said.

The oil sector strike, which began on Wednesday, had virtually paralysed fuel supplies. Over 70% of the petrol pumps in the country ran dry, flights at airports got delayed and power generation and industrial production was hit.

Bringing relief to CNG and piped gas consumers in Mumbai, ONGC restored gas production from its Hazira field on Friday afternoon.

Oil Minister Deora told Hindustan Times, the withdrawal was unconditional. “The high level ministerial committee under home minister P Chidambaram will still look into the wage hike issues and submit its report in a month’s time.”

This was the longest-ever strike by oil PSU employees. The last strike in 2007 lasted three hours and the one in 2000 was called off after 12 hours.

IOC said of its 17,700 pumps across the country, over 30% are operational. Around 75% of the 8282 pumps of BPCL have resumed operations. All 8373 pumps of HPCL are working. “On the whole, around 60% pumps in the country have already become functional,” petroleum secretary R S Pandey said.