Closed fuel outlets in Dmp equals empty classrooms
DIMAPUR SEPTEMBER 3
HOUSANDS of schoolchildren and college students in the commercial hub of Dimapur on Tuesday were forced to miss class even as most passenger vehicles stayed off road, in the backdrop of an indefinite closure of all oil outlets in town called by the Petroleum Dealers Association (PDA).The oil outlets, numbering thirty-one in Dimapur, decided to close down business since Monday afternoon following a threat to some gas stations from members of NSCN (IM) to shut shop or face “consequences.”
The situation looks set for a worse turn in the next few days to come, as Eastern Mirror today confirmed from highly reliable sources that petroleum dealers have decided not to be deterred from their decision. This significant step, is much against the will of the PDA, but was taken after yet another failed scheduled meeting between PDA members and UT-1 NSCN (IM) official(s).
Sources said that when the PDA members went to meet the NSCN (IM) officials(s) concerned on Monday but were sent back after being told that the latter were in Hebron camp. A meeting between PDA officials and DC Dimapur later in the evening could not convince the petroleum dealers to open “at least some of the outlets”, despite repeated appeals from the administration. The PDA officials, quite understandably and rightly, had argued that lives have been threatened.
Following the turn of events, some parents fearing for the worse in Dimapur are contemplating to pull together a group of likeminded parents and demand closure of educational institutions till the oil outlets are opened again.
Not all parents own private vehicles and, roughly, at least 80% of the students in Dimapur use passenger vehicles to school.
By Monday evening, at around 6 pm, Nagaland registered vehicles flocked to neighboring Lahorijan in Assam to buy oil. The mad rush among panic-stricken vehicle owners eventually turned into a pandemonium by Tuesday morning and consequently, cops were called to the spot to monitor the situation.
As more and more vehicles from Dimapur lined up along the highway to fill up their tank, by early Tuesday evening, the oil depots in Lahorijan were reported to have run out of stock. Similar situation was reported in the rest of the gas stations in the area. Sources said that there are four oil outlets in the Khatkati-Lahorijan area.
Vehicles in Dimapur were reportedly rushing as far as to Silonijan to buy fuel on Tuesday evening.
Yet, almost all the vehicles lined up in Assam oil outlets were either private or government owned. Passenger vehicles could not travel into Assam to buy fuel. More auto-rickshaws will stay off road, it is widely feared.
Unfortunately, the situation has also forced the auto-rickshaw drivers to hike fares, by the double. Passenger vehicles, that used to charge Rs 10 per person on those traveling between Dhobinulla and Signal Angami, were charging Rs 20 per person on Tuesday evening.
Similar reports of fare hike were received from residents of Duncan Basti, Lengirjan, Nagarjan and the stretch between Purana Bazaar and Chumukedima. Normal business activities, in the commercial hub were also severely affected.
Meanwhile, in a press release “for public awareness”, the Petroleum Dealers Association Dimapur today said that “we have already paid the adulteration fee (which is mandatory for all Retail Outlets whether they are indulging in adulteration or not).”
It also claimed that some of the retail outlets published in newspapers as indulging in oil adulteration have been wrongly accused of.
Also, the Dimapur District Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) released a statement expressing concern over the “sudden and indefinite closure of retail petrol outlets in the district.”
DCCI president, Hokivi Chishi expressed solidarity to the PDA and observed that the “lightening shutdown” of oil outlets in Dimapur “day has gravely affected” normal life. Chishi noted that school going children were the “ones who suffered the most” while adding that other business establishments “had a dry day of sale as many vehicles both commercial and private stayed off-road.”
He asked the state government to intervene and facilitate settlement between the NSCN (IM) and PDA at the earliest, in the interest of the public.
The PDA had written a letter to the Deputy Commissioner on Monday apprising her of their decision to shut down the fuel outlets. The letter states that in July –August NSCN(IM) officials had collected samples from the petrol pumps.After a few weeks proprietors of select petrol pumps were informed about the quality of the sample of petrol collected.They were asked pay a sum of Rs I lakh to Rs 3 lakh. The letter states that the PDA declined this payment since they had already paid annual tax as well as the “CAO UT-1 adulteration fee”.
As stated in a local daily the DC has forwarded a letter to the Additional Chief Secretary and Commissioner to pursue the matter with the government, the CFMG and the CFSB.
NSCN (IM) response
THE NSCN (IM) Kilonser and CAO of UT-1, Ape Venuh on Tuesday questioned the PDA decision to shut down all petrol pumps in Dimapur “when the NSCN/GPRN (had) ordered closure of those 17 pumps who are not selling genuine fuel.”
In a press release issued today, Ape Venuh accused the PDA of encouraging “illegal activities” of which, he said, the closing down of “all 31 pumps in Dimapur” was a “clear indication.”
“It is of the view that proper and thorough examination be done before swinging into such kind of action,” he said.
Ape further claimed that there are “many godowns set up in and around Dimapur to execute the work of mixing petroleum products with a chemical by the name zero solvent.” Besides damages to the vehicles, Ape said that the chemical mixture also causes cancer and environmental pollution.
‘It is also learnt that some pump owners own a factory of the said chemical in Khatkati, Assam and encourages the same at their personal interest,” he alleged.
Instead of “reacting in the way they are now”, Ape said that that the DPA should rather look for measures to control the activities of oil adulteration “happening around them for so long.”
Meanwhile, CFMC convener of NSCN (IM), Kraibo Chawang told Eastern Mirror that the allegations leveled against the outfit in a local daily by the PDA were all false.