GUWAHATI, Aug 8 - A letter by Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) to Assam Police has blown the lid of a nascent oil syndicate in upper Assam which is allegedly backed by political elements.
The IOC(AOD) is in the process of shifting its marketing terminal from Sripuria in Tinsukia to Golai in Digboi. In fact, some loading is already being done in the new terminal. Around 150 trucks are loaded at the terminal daily.
However, ever since the new terminal began operation, a syndicate has been allegedly collecting huge amount of money from the truckers.
�...there are reports that some anti-social elements camping near the terminal are extracting (read collecting) huge amount of money from drivers of tank trucks during every trip on the pretext of offering safety gadgets,� the IOC letter to the Tinsukia SP stated, requesting his intervention to resolve the �deteriorating law and order problem�.
The IOC also said that �miscreants and unscrupulous elements� were preventing entry of contractual employees into the terminal and the oil company is finding it difficult to engage the workers.
Truckers say officially Rs 200 is collected from each truck, but the amount may go up to Rs 500.
It is learnt that the Assam Petroleum Mazdoor Union (APMU) too had moved the Chief Secretary twice, and sought a meeting with her to discuss the problem, but in vain.
�The miscreants have set up their own security zone around the Digboi terminal and are verifying the identity of workers attending work at the terminal and controlling movement of petroleum products. The miscreants have started a parallel administration,� the union said in a letter to the Chief Secretary, alleging that tanker drivers are being harassed and huge amounts of money extorted from them.
When contacted, APMU general secretary Ramen Das said the operation at the terminal commenced even though no adequate security arrangements have been made in and around the installation.
�Some miscreants are demanding money in the pretext of providing safety gear. But these safety gears � like fire arrester, specialized uniform and safety shoe � are mandatory and every trucker carries it. A tanker cannot enter a terminal if these safety gears are not in the vehicle,� Das said, adding that the problem may soon lead to malpractices like oil pilferage, etc.
Petroleum workers are contemplating on going on indefinite strike in the State from August 13 if the problem persists till then and no action is taken by the government. A strike notice has also been given to the Chief Secretary, Assam.