Lorry owners' association protests against police action
Bulk movement of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) from BPCL-Kochi Refinery at Ambalamugal to bottling plants of various oil companies across the State has been disrupted after the Southern State LPG Tanker Lorry Owners' Association based at Namakkal in Tamil Nadu suspended operations in the State from Saturday morning.
The move was in protest against the action taken by the police against vehicles and their crew belonging to the association members. The association operates between 200 and 250 trucks a day in the State.
BPCL-Kochi Refinery sources said a meeting would be held with the association to resolve the issue.
“We have not suspended the operations but the drivers are agitated at the police action. They are apprehensive of police detention and are not willing to operate,” N.R. Karthik, secretary of the association, told The Hindu.
He said the police had detained 10 trucks and their drivers within the Karunagapally and Kollam police station limits in the past two days. The police action, he said, was based on the charge that the trucks did not have two drivers and a cleaner as required by the national permit provisions.
The current impasse could not have come at a worse time as there is an acute shortage of cooking gas cylinders. The BPCL-Kochi Refinery sources said there would not be any immediate impact as things could be managed with the stock available at the bottling plants. But the situation might worsen if the trucks remained off the road for a couple of days together.
LPG meant for bottling plants of all the three oil companies in the State are transported from the BPCL-Kochi Refinery. The bottling plant functioning within the refinery at Ambalamugal and the HPCL plant at Irumpanam that are served by pipelines will not be affected. K.P. Kurian, who operates a LPG cylinder transportation firm, said of the 80-odd truck loads that moved out of the BPCL-Kochi Refinery a day, 45-50 loads were meant for bottling plants within the State.
Stringent rules have been enforced for gas tanker operation following an accident and subsequent fire at Karunagappally in Kollam district last December. Mr. Karthik said severe shortage of manpower was preventing the association from meeting that condition and this had been conveyed to the government and the oil companies.