Saturday, September 29, 2007


Gangtok needs 50,000 Cylinders a month

Practically cut off from the rest of the world over the last fortnight, thanks to nature's wrath, Sikkim is facing an unprecedented shortage of fuel, especially LPG. There are reports that patience of people waiting for LPG finally seems to be running out as they have started now stopping trucks carrying LPG cylinders from Siliguri to distributor's Stores in Gangtok,Namchi,Jorethang etc. to overcome crisis in their Kitchens although District Collector East Vishal Chauhan has once more appealed to people of Sikkim to co-operate as they are soon going to takeoff some gas pressure by making more supplies and also informedof Police escort or trucks carrying LPG cylinders to various Stores of their authorised distributors.IndianOil iis going to seek help from the army to airlift LPG stock from Siliguri to Gangtok. "After informal discussions, it is being planned to officially seek help from the Indian Army to airlift a limited number of LPG cylinders to Gangtok till normalcy returns," an IndianOil spokesperson said. Besides civilians, the army, with its heavy concentration along the Sino-Indian border, is also a major buyer of LPG in Sikkim. 'Even if this needs to be done, it would be a tough job as airlifting filled-up LPG botdes requires special kind of security and technical arrangements. Moreover, ferrying a couple of cylinders by our choppers would involve huge expense," said a senior official at the Indian Army 33 Corps HQ at Sukna near Siliguri. The Corps has an army aviation helicopter squadron flying the Hindustan Aeronautics-built Chetak choppers. The whole state is experiencing a severe fuel crisis, including kerosene, petrol diesel and LPG. With landslides disrupting Sikkim's lifeline NH-31A and most of the other state highways, the LPG distributors in Gangtok or in major district towns are running almost dry. Due to road disruption, vehicle movement is restricted, reducing the demand for diesel. But, the demand for LPG is at the same level in the urban areas. According to IndianOil senior area manager B Lama, Gangtok needs around 50,000 LPG cylinders a month, which is mosdy supplied by IndianOil 's LPG bottling plant at Rangpo in Sikkim.Multi-axle tankers carry bulk LPG stock to the Rangpo plant. "After a long gap, we could get five tankers to Rangpo on Tuesday. The stock can refill just 7,500 cylinders," he added. However, die rural areas of Sikkim, where over 85% of the population depends on kerosene and firewood, are going to face trouble for the next couple of days.