The government on Friday cracked down on the striking oil PSU executives, ordering arrests and calling the army to restore normal fuel supply that was thrown into disarray on the third day of the nationwide stir.
Government cracked the whip after Oil Minister Murli Deora briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the failure of talks with Oil Sector Officers Association (OSOA) last night, goading Bharat Petroleum, Oil India and Engineers India executives to return to work to avoid dismissal and arrests. OSOA struck work on January 7 to press for higher wages, holding the country to ransom by stopping oil and gas output and disrupting fuel supplies that brought road traffic to a halt and delayed domestic and international flights. About 12,000 petrol pumps of the largest fuel retailer, Indian Oil, and over 3,000 of BPCL was out of stock, leading to mile-long queues at HPCL outlets.
Mumbai ran out of compressed natural gas (CNG) that runs some two lakh buses, taxis and autos but Delhi had enough CNG and piped natural gas stocks to last 7 to 10 days. However, with gas available from ONGC, as many as 138 CNG stations would be fully functional by tonight, Petroleum Secretary R S Pandey said.
Petrol, diesel supply situation will improve with BPCL executives calling off the strike and army taking despatch and loading operations of IOC at Delhi.
"Tough is an understatement," Deora said, even as Pandey said that army has been called in and arrest orders are being issued against those who are not relenting. Officers of ONGC and IOC continued to boycott work. IOC Chairman Sarthak Behuria said list of officers has been sent to district authorities with instruction for arrest if officers do not join duty by tomorrow.