Indane consumers can look forward to normality in the cylinder supplies with truck drivers at a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bottling facility in Manali calling off their strike on Friday evening.

A resolution emerged after the Tiruvallur district administration convened a meeting of the truck drivers, transporters and Indian Oil Corporation officials.

As per the agreement reached at the meeting chaired by RDO Ambattur, S.Marimuthu, the drivers as a group were assured of a minimum of 60 loads a day from the bottling plant. This would be increased to 80 within two months. Drivers would start transporting the cylinders from Saturday.

District Collector K.Veera Raghava Rao said the truck drivers went on strike five days ago following a salary dispute between them and the vehicle owners. The issue arose after a reduction in the number of loads despatched from the plant. It came down to 20-30 in a month. (A load is a little over 300 cylinders).

The reduction in the loads from the plant, sources in IOC said, was on account of several thousand cylinders being taken out of circulation for maintenance. The segregation, as the process is known in oil industry parlance, is supposed to be a routine, continuous exercise and hence unlikely to affect the bottles in circulation. But in this case, more than the usual number of cylinders seemed to have been taken out.

Less cylinders meant less bottles available for bottling and in turn less trips for the drivers. While their salary is a small, fixed sum, it is the per trip charges, of around Rs.750, that contribute to bulk of their take home. Sources said around 120 lorries are attached to the Manali bottling plant, which belongs to Indian Oil Tanking Ltd (IOTL).

The protest since Monday gave more than a scare to the consumers. It saw some 40 cooking gas distributors attached to the plant depending on loads from the other two bottling plants of IOC in Ennore and Chengalpattu. With some of the agencies not getting adequate loads, the backlog of refills to be supplied went up, sources among the distributors said.

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