Maintaining fuel supplies to trouble-torn Manipur has led to a shortage of petrol, diesel and cooking gas supply to two other states – Tripura and Mizoram.
Officials of the state-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) that supplies this fuel to the Northeast from its refineries in Assam, however, informed in Agartala that the crisis would be over within a week. “On the direction of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry, priority has been given to maintain the supply to Manipur resulting in some fuel crisis in other Northeastern states,” said a senior IOC official on condition of anonymity.
He added that IOC-owned four refineries of Digboi, Guwahati, Numaligarh and Bongaigaon in Assam from where diesel, petrol and LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) was supplied mostly by road to the Northeast. The Manipur-based United Naga Council (UNC) had imposed road blockade since November 1, to protest the state government’s unilateral decision to create new districts out of traditional Naga territory.
The Congress-led Manipur government had decided to create seven new districts, including Jiribam district out of Imphal East and Sadar Hills district out of Senapati district that was hugely protested by Naga rights groups. The blockade on national highway (NH-2) had disrupted the supply of essentials — food grains and fuel to Manipur.
Inadequate supply of essentials was then maintained through alternative highways linking Assam to Manipur. In Tripura, in view of the short supply of transport fuel, long queues of two-wheelers and other vehicles were seen in front of all petrol pumps across the state. People were also facing a tough time arranging LPG cylinders from distributors.
A Tripura Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department official stated that the state government has asked the IOCL to take urgent steps to bring normalcy in the availability. “The chief secretary has asked the IOCL officials to improve the situation at the earliest.”
In Mizoram, most filling stations in the state were running dry even as Christmas, the main festival in the Christian-majority state was around the corner. A large number of vehicles lined up at petrol pumps across the state for the past few days were greeted with No Petrol signs.
Meanwhile leaders of the Young Mizo Association, a powerful NGO has alleged in a statement that petrol pumps in Mizoram were indulging in black marketing, taking advantage of the prevailing situation.