Forty 'absconding tankers' report
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, June 28, 2010: Apparently giving in to the strong pressure exerted by the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), 40 oil tankers, out of 74, which have been 'absconding' since the beginning of the blockade, have reported to the IOC.

However, the remaining 34 oil tankers have not moved to the IOC and they have not reported as yet, till the time of filing this report.

In the meantime, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi and Works Minister K Ranjit left for New Delhi yesterday to meet the Prime Minister and the Union Surface Transport and Highways Minister to hand over NH-53 (Jiribam-Imphal section) to the State PWD and development of the highway on an urgent basis.

Investigation by The Sangai Express about the 74 oil tankers which were loaded with fuel from Assam between April 6 and May 5 but failed to report to the IOC all these days, revealed that the tankers were loaded with fuel before the blockade commenced.

Altogether 74 oil tankers including tankers with registration number MN01- 6870 belonging to A Hemanta Sharma Transports and tanker MN 01-7338 belonging to HR Agency which were loaded with diesel failed to report to the IOC.

The IOC intimated the same to Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Department on June 8. On receiving the IOC's report, the CAF&PD Commissioner issued a written directive to the DGP the same day asking to track down the straying tankers and bring them to Imphal with security escorts.

On account of the strong pressure from the IOC, 15 petrol tankers, 21 diesel tankers and four kerosene tankers reported to the IOC on June 25. On being enquired about the failure of these tankers to report to the IOC for more than two months, top IOC and CAF&PD officials said that the oil tankers were waiting to travel along NH-39 in view of the deplorable condition of NH-53. The tankers were still awaiting to take the NH-39 route as travelling along NH-53 would incur extra cost.

However, there was no report of the transporters selling off fuel, informed the officials.

On the other hand, it has been discovered that differences of opinion among top and influential officials over allotment of petrol to PCTC oil pump has been the primary reason for the inordinate delay in issuing necessary orders for allocation of fuel to different oil pumps for further distribution to the public.

While one group of powerful and influential officials maintained that petrol should be allocated to PCTC oil pump like other oil pumps, another equally influential group has been contending that no more petrol should be allocated to PCTC as the same oil pump was found adulterating petrol.

This contention between the two powerful groups has been the major factor for inordinate delay in distributing fuel oils to the public even as fuels are being brought in regularly along NH 53. Meanwhile, Chief Minister O Ibobi and Works Minister K Ranjit have been putting up at New Delhi since yesterday to call on the Prime Minister and the Union Surface Transport and Highways Minister and talk about transfer of NH 53 from the care of BRO to State PWD and development of the same highway.

With the Prime Minister currently away on a foreign tour, Ibobi is awaiting return of the Prime Minister.

The Chief Minister and the Works Minister have been seeking an appointment with the Union Surface Transport and Highways Minister in the meantime, conveyed the latter.

However, PN Yadav, Commandant of 765 Bn BRTF which is in charge of Imphal-Barak section of NH 53 contended that no fund was received as the detailed project report for the same section of the highway was not approved by the Ministry.

Further, BRTF was prohibited from developing Barak-Khongshang section of the highway as compensation for affected land owners have not been paid, Yadav said.

According to Patter Nabir, commandant of all BRTF projects between Barak and Jiribam said that non-local labourers felt insecure working on the highway.

Out of 21 bridges dotting the highway between Barak and Jiribam, the Ministry made sanction for construction of only six bridges, he added.