Protesters have been demanding better charges since Tuesday
Bharat Gas customers across Chennai and several other locations in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh could be in for trying times as transporters of lorries moving liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders from and to the company’s bottling plant in suburban Gummidipoondi are on strike.
Their protest, since Tuesday, in support of their demand for better transport charges, has affected operations at the plant, something officials in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) confirmed even while pointing out that negotiations to resolve the strike were under way. Describing it as a move to bring pressure on the company ahead of the finalisation of the transportation contract, officials said the backlog with the distributors would increase only if the protest was prolonged.
Sources among distributors, some of whom were also transporters, said the plant supplies refills to Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Thiruvannamalai and Vellore districts in the State, and to Chittoor and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh. According to a distributor, the backlog was five to seven days, much of it caused by the Pongal holidays. In the first week of this month, the backlog, he said, was a manageable at 2-3 days.
Around 130 lorries are attached to the plant, which is equipped with two carousels. Officials said the plant has excess capacity. Close to 100 loads are despatched daily and any shortfall, if the strike prolongs, could be met by the BPCL bottling plant in Thanjavur, they said. On the impact, officials said some despatches were possible and distributors were asked to make alternative arrangements for transportation.
This is the second protest this month by those engaged in the transportation of cylinders. Ahead of Pongal, lorry drivers attached to an Indane bottling plant in Manali went on a strike demanding they be supplied more loads daily.