Shifting of Ambala oil terminal gathers pace, truckers protest
Truckers staged a protest against the decision to shift the Indian Oil Terminal on National Highway 44 in Ambala Cantonment on Wednesday.
The shifting of the 40-acre terminal has been pending for years. Locals have long demanded that the terminal be shifted because of the high population density around it and its proximity to the railway lines and the national highway that connects north India with the rest of the country.
Truck drivers, on the other hand, said the decision will affect them and their families adversely amid the pandemic. “The decision will cost me my job. Around 300 trucks were stopped today without a reason. The depot supplies to the army and air force and in case of an emergency, it will take hours to supply fuel to the vehicles and aircrafts of the defence forces,” said one of the protesters, Praveen Kumar.
Truck drivers’ union president Vinod Kumar said , “We are being hassled. Most of us have been waiting since morning and are being asked to leave in the evening without supply.”
General manager of the terminal Ravi Sharma couldn’t be reached for a comment despite several attempts. A senior official of Indian Oil, Chandigarh, who did not wish to be named, said the shifting process had been initiated in phases and will be complete by September. “Security and safety threat to the cantonment area could also be one of the reasons behind the terminal’s closure,” the official said.
“The Ambala terminal is one of the oldest in the region. A new terminal has come up in Una, Himachal Pradesh, which could cater to Punjab and north Haryana. Other districts of Haryana will probably get their supply from Panipat. There are depot terminals in Bathinda and Sangrur that could supply to Ambala’s customers but it all depends on the lending costs,” the official said.
Ambala Sadar Municipal Council executive officer Vinod Nehra confirmed that the lease of land had expired long ago and was not extended by authorities. “We had sent them notices about their pending lease earlier this year but they moved to court,” Nehra said.
The issue was a poll plank during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when locals called for its closure yet again.