For the second consecutive day, LPG cylinder truck drivers continued their hunger fast near the premises of Indian Oil Tanking Limited (IOTL) on Tuesday, demanding that the number of loads be increased.
The strike has resulted in the stoppage of LPG cylinder despatches from the bottling plant in Manali. However, sources at Indian Oil Corporation Ltd said that supply to the city has not been affected.
The drivers have complained that IOTL has reduced truck loads over the past few months.
Divakar A. Selvin, secretary of LPG Cylinder Transport Contractors’ Association, said that until last year, nearly 100 truck loads of cylinders were despatched from the plant daily. However, in the past few months, this number has come down to just 40 loads a day. Each truck-load comprises 310 cylinders.
The reason cited for the decrease in the loads is a lack of empty cylinders to fill. “Damaged cylinders and those that are over 10 years old are replaced. But authorities at IOTL say there is a delay in replacing such cylinders,” Mr. Selvin claimed.
Besides the IOTL plant, Chennai and its suburbs get their supply from plants in Ennore and Chengalpattu too.
K. Selvaraj, a truck driver, said that IOTL had not kept its word. “Each truck gets only two loads a week, which means we get paid only twice a week. Drivers are paid around Rs. 500 for one round trip by the owners. There was an agreement in June that the number of loads a day would be increased to 60 and then after two months, to 80. But IOTL has not kept its word,” he said.
Sources at Indian Oil Corporation said the plant was being operated on a demand-supply basis. “There is no shortage of cylinders in the city. Damaged cylinders are usually removed from the system,” said a source.