Northeastern India hit by cooking gas crisis



Agartala: Northeastern states of the country have been facing a severe crisis of cooking gas after the production was hit in the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL)-owned four refineries in Assam, an official said here on Saturday.

"On a monthly average, there is a drop in the supply of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) cylinders to the seven northeastern states by more than 600,000 cylinders against the demand of around 200,00,00 cylinders," an IOCL official told agencies in Agartala.

Of the total average monthly demand of LPG cylinders in the northeastern region, Assam alone accounts for 12,05,000 cylinders followed by Tripura with 312,000 cylinders.

"The major cause for the shortfall is the halt in production at the Numaligarh refinery, the biggest refinery in the region, following a blast at the plant site in Golaghat on April 7," the official added.

"The production has been further hit due to the repairing works at Nunmati, Bongaigaon and Digboi refineries," the official said.

Other regions of the country are also facing shortfall in cooking gas, according to the official.

"Till May first week, the shortfall of LPG was 36,313 metric tonnes in the southern region, followed by 11,677 metric tonnes in eastern and northeastern regions, 10,828 metric tonnes in the northern zone, and 6,780 metric tonnes in the western zone," the official said.

"The situation could improve by the end of June if the government decides to import LPG," he added. The crisis, according to the Indian Oil officials, has worsened due to shortage of LPG in the international market also.

The IOCL has been trying to acquire mounded bullets (refrigerated tankers used to store large volumes of LPG) from other parts of the country to ease the crisis in the northeastern states.

Food department officials of Tripura and Mizoram say that middlemen are taking advantage of the situation by charging consumers Rs.400-500 extra.

The Tripura government has written several letters to the union petroleum and natural gas ministry and the IOCL to resolve the crisis urgently, according to officials.

"Due to indifference of the central government and the IOCL, the crisis of LPG has been worsening in the country, particularly in the northeastern region," Tripura Food and Civil Supplies Minister Manik Dey said.

IANS