Plea to charge uniform price for LNG

Nearly 300 employees and officers of the Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore (FACT) began a hunger strike at the Edappally station junction on Tuesday demanding a deal to make liquefied natural gas (LNG) available to the public sector company at the rate at which the fuel is made available to fertilizer producers in other parts of the country.

A spokesman for Save FACT Action Committee, which is spearheading the agitation, said the 24-hour hunger strike was continuation of the protest action taken up by the employees and officers over the past 93 days demanding immediate government intervention to save the fertilizer unit.

Former judge of the Supreme Court V.R. Krishna Iyer, who sent a message to the fasting FACT workers, expressed total solidarity with the protesting workers.

The message was read out at the venue of the hunger strike.

K.P. Dhanapalan, MP, delivered the keynote address. The FACT workers and officers arrived at the site of the hunger strike in a motor rally. P. Rajeeve, MP; former minister N. K. Premachandran; national secretary of the INTUC K. P. Haridas; and K. Chandran Pillai, convenor of Save FACT Action Committee, were among those who spoke.

The Action Committee spokesman said that the price at which natural gas was now being made available to FACT paused certain “danger” to the future of the company.

According to calculations made by the Action Committee, FACT would make a loss of more than Rs. 100 crore a year if the gas price is $12 per mmBtu. Any increase in the price of gas above $10 per unit would be detrimental to the company’s future, the calculations claimed. They said that at the rate at which gas now being offered to FACT (at $24.35 per mmBtu) the company would make a loss of Rs. 732 crore a year.

A statement issued by Save FACT Action Committee said that fixing of the price of natural gas was crucial to the company’s future because even the implementation of a revival package recommended by the Board for Reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprises (BRPSE) depended on the price at which the fuel would be made available to the company. The protesting workers also reiterated their demand that the State and Union governments forgo the taxes on natural gas in order to make gas cheaper for the company.

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