CHENNAI: With the Southern Region Bulk LPG Transport Owners Association launching a stir against the new tender policy for gas distribution, there are concerns that city homes will run out of gas supply soon.The State transport owners feel that because of the new system, bidding and distribution in other States will be affected.
“So far, tenders were floated zone-wise, enabling lorry owners from Tamil Nadu to participate in gas distribution in other States. But, from November 1, 2018, the Centre is planning to float state-wise tenders, thus restricting the truckers from other states,” said association secretary N R Karthick.
The LPG brought to seven terminals of oil companies and two refinery stations in the southern region get transported to 49 bottling plants, including two private plants by 4000 bulk LPG trucks to cater to Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala and Karnataka.
Foreseeing a boost in gas cylinder distribution in coming years, the association said they have invested about Rs 900 crores to purchase additional 3000 trucks in 2017.
“Had we been informed on the change in the tender system, during the pre-tender meeting held in February 2017, we would have not invested such a huge money through bank loans. The trucks are designed to carry only LPG and it cannot be used for any other purpose,” he added.
According to industry sources, the bottling plants which supply cylinders to gas agencies are fast becoming empty as they have been not been getting gas for the past two days.“The bottling plants may cater to LPG demand for another two to three days. The stocks in gas distribution agencies in Madurai, Tiruchy, Coimbatore and Salem may help to manage the situation for another couple of days. But gas distribution in Chennai and suburban areas can be maintained only till Thursday,” said sources.
Gas agencies in Chennai primarily depend on daily transportation of LPG cylinders from bottling plants. Unlike other parts of Tamil Nadu, most of the gas distribution agencies in Chennai did not have large godowns to stock cylinders.In recent years, oil companies have sanctioned licence to a large number of gas agencies in Chennai city. Supplying cylinders to transferred connections and new connections may not be possible after Thursday,” a proprietor of a gas agency said.
According to official records, Tamil Nadu has got 1.034 crore gas connections out of which Indian Oil Corporation has got 45 lakh cylinder connections, while Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum have about 30.2 lakh and 28.2 lakh consumers respectively.Oil company officials said they have taken measures to ensure uninterrupted cylinder distribution in the State. They refused to comment further.
Meanwhile, Karthick says they will continue their protests. “Neither oil companies nor the Central government has called us for talks. Till demands are accepted, we will continue our protest.”
1.034 crore: Number of gas connections in Tamil Nadu. Indian Oil as the most, with 45 lakh connections