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Updated January 2nd, 2024 at 17:50 IST

Truckers' strike disrupts supply chains, petrol shortage emerges

Industry officials indicated that while state-owned oil companies had replenished fuel stocks at most outlets in anticipation of potential disruptions.

Business Desk
Crowd in petrol pumps
Crowd in petrol pumps | Image:PTI
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Fuel shortage across India: A strike led by select truckers' associations has led to fuel shortages at approximately 2,000 petrol pumps, predominantly in the western and northern regions of India. The strike, now in its second day, has created long queues at several petrol stations, particularly in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Punjab.

Industry officials indicated that while state-owned oil companies had replenished fuel stocks at most outlets in anticipation of potential disruptions, the heavy rush at certain locations depleted their reserves. The situation remains relatively stable in southern India, with only minor supply disruptions reported in Hyderabad.

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The three-day strike, initiated by some truck, bus, and tanker operators, protests the stringent penalties outlined in the new criminal law, Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS), particularly concerning hit-and-run cases. While the All India Motor Transport Association has not yet declared a nationwide strike, representatives are scheduled to engage with home ministry officials to discuss their concerns regarding BNS.

1 lakh fuel trucks impacted

Although most petrol stations have sufficient fuel reserves to last 2-3 days, industry insiders warn of potential challenges should the strike extend beyond the planned three days or escalate into a broader nationwide movement. The disruption has also impacted the movement of approximately 1 lakh trucks responsible for transporting petrol, diesel, and LPG from depots to various outlets.

Concerns extend beyond fuel shortages; the strike threatens essential supplies such as vegetables, fruits, and milk if prolonged or expanded nationwide. The Maharashtra state government has urged police to facilitate uninterrupted fuel supply, while commuters in Madhya Pradesh have experienced travel disruptions.

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The new legislation under BNS replaces the colonial-era Indian Penal Code and imposes stringent penalties, including up to 10 years in jail and a Rs 7 lakh fine, for severe road accidents involving negligent driving. Truckers argue that such penalties are disproportionate, given the risks they face from potential mob justice.

As the strike continues to unfold, sporadic demonstrations have emerged across states like Gujarat and Maharashtra, with protesters blockading roads and highways. While LPG supplies remain unaffected thus far due to consumers holding double connections and reserve stocks, prolonged strike action could exacerbate existing challenges.

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(With PTI inputs)

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Published January 2nd, 2024 at 17:50 IST

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