The Southern Region Bulk LPG Transport Operators Association finalised the transportation rates with officials of oil companies on Monday at Rs. 2.50 a tonne a km in the hills and Rs. 2.43 in the plains, which is far below their demand.

The rates were finalised after a six-hour discussion between 24 representatives of the association headed by its president M. Ponnambalam, secretary N.R. Karthik, five other office-bearers and 17 executive committee members, and officials from the Tender Coordination Committee of the three major oil companies, in Chennai.

Mr. Karthik told The Hindu that Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) have agreed to induct all the 552 new trucks that participated in the tender between November 1, 2011 and October 31, 2014.

“Induction process for the trucks began on Tuesday,” he added.

Association representatives who took part in the eight rounds of talks with the committee, executive directors of the oil companies, and state government – from November 2011 to March 19, 2012 – to finalise the rates said that they were very disappointed with the rates.

He stated that these rates were only a little more than the cost at which they transported till October 31, 2011, at Rs. 2.24 (hills) and Rs. 2.18 (plains).

The transporters quoted Rs. 3.99 (hills) and Rs. 3.63 (plains) in the tender, which they later reduced to Rs. 3.10 (hills) and Rs. 3 (plains) and then to Rs. 2.90 (hills) and Rs. 2.80 (plains) before they accepted the rates quoted by the oil companies.

Another representative claimed that the association was persuaded to withdraw its strikes and hard stand seeking better rates as the state government did not want the common man to suffer from LPG shortage as the public has already been badly hit by severe electricity shortage.

“We (transporters) fought to the best of our ability but could not succeed,” he said.

The association secretary said that association members have been unofficially informed about the rates that have been finalised with the oil companies.

“In a couple of days the companies will be individually sending offer letters with the finalised rates to the 1,400 members who operate the 4,116 trucks,” Mr. Karthik said.