The dawn to dusk State-wide motor strike called by trade unions is likely to create a backlog of hundreds of loads of cooking gas cylinders in the State.
Indane, the LPG brand of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), moves out about 280 loads from its three bottling plants in Kochi, Kozhikode, and Kollam, on a single day. A load comprises 300 cylinders.
BP Gas, the LPG brand of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), distributes around 170 loads across the State from its two bottling plants in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram besides the cylinders rolled out with the help of private players. The strike will disrupt the movement of about 90 loads of cylinders of HP Gas, the LPG brand of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), rolled out from its plants in Kochi, Palakkad, and Mangalore. .
A senior IOC official claimed the company can manage a day’s disruption by sending extra loads on the day before and after the strike. The problem arises, he said, when the disruption lasts for multiple days.
A senior official of the BPCL, however, admitted that backlog created by Wednesday’s disruption could take at least a week to normalise. This was echoed by a senior official of HPCL who lamented the timing of the strike when there is already an increased demand for cylinders with Onam round the corner.
“The one week normalisation is based on the assumption that extra cylinders will be delivered by gas agencies on the days following the strike. For instance, a dealer distributing 300 cylinders will have to distribute an additional 50 cylinders in the week after the strike to clear the backlog,” he said.
Subscribers of Indane were already facing some problems with the delivery of cylinders, which the company said was not account of any shortage but due to the migration to new software for facilitating Direct Benefit Transfer for LPG. The IOC official ruled out any delay in the delivery of cylinders due to the migration. “Due to technical reasons associated with migration we had asked our agents to cancel the bookings if the customer was not present to take delivery whereas earlier the delivery boy would have made repeated visits to deliver it. But we ensure prompt delivery as soon as customers made fresh booking for refills. The problem has now been addressed,” he said.
While IOC and BPCL ruled out any panic booking in the wake of a three-month grace period given by the Union government for consumers to link Aadhaar card for the direct transfer of LPG subsidy to their bank account, at least a section of HP agents have reported such a phenomenon. “Since the Union government has restricted subsidised gas cylinders to nine a year, many of these consumers seem to be under the impression that they can book all these nine cylinders during this window of three months so that they can avoid linking Aadhaar card with their LPG ID during this year,” a HP official said.