Tripura faces its worst ever fuel crisis

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Schools unable to run busses for students have been forced to suspend classes in various schools in state capital Agartala as Tripura loom into its worst ever fuel crisis over the last two months.

Most private schools provide bus to pick up students.

The school management say it has become impossible for them to ply school busses as because of the fuel crisis.

Fierce protests against the acute fuel crisis in Tripura have been on for more than a week.

The Manik Sarkar government made showing of motor insurance documents mandatory for refilling vehicles at fuel stations.

It had earlier introduced the odd-even system of fuel rationing in which vehicles could refill their tanks only on alternate days, depending on whether they had an odd or even registration number.

However, the government was forced to withdraw the move on Saturday last after motorists protested.

On last Friday night, demonstrators agitated in front of the residence of the chief minister and the civil supplies minister Bhanu Lal Saha seeking adequate supply of petrol and diesel.

bus (1)

School busses in parking lot

The agitators said sufficient number of fuel tankers had entered the state but fuel stations remained empty.

West Tripura district magistrate Milind Ramteke, however, played down the crisis and said nine petrol pumps had been in operation across the state since Saturday morning.

“We have announced strong action against any unlawful attempt to procure fuel. The administration has designed certain rules to tackle the situation and we expect everyone to follow them,” Ramteke said.

Transport minister Manik Dey accused the BJP-led governments in neighbouring Assam and at the Centre of hatching a conspiracy against Tripura to embarrass the Left Front government here.

“Despite our repeated requests, repairs along seven kilometers of national highway 44 could not be completed within three months. If private vehicle-owners and bikers are not satisfied with the supply, let them take public or non-motorised transport,” Dey said.

Drivers are having to wait for several hours till late night to get only little amount of diesel with which they are unable to run busses and so have no other option but to suspend classes till the situation improves.

Prafulla Dutta, Principal of Sri Krishna Mission School said, “Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan and other schools have declared holidays for two or three days, until and unless the fuel problem is solved school will remain closed. Our school also we have declared tomorrow holiday and asked students not to come to school, class has been suspended but teachers are to come. Due to fuel it is not possible to take out vehicle tomorrow, there is no stock of fuel with us and it is very difficult to run the school.”

We have announced strong action against any unlawful attempt to procure fuel. The administration has designed certain rules to tackle the situation and we expect everyone to follow them – DM West Tripura

Meantime, Ajoy Acharya, a senior teacher said that the irregularity of classes will directly hamper the student as examination are approaching and it will be tough to complete the syllabus especially for the students who are going to appear for the board exam.

“We are hopeless as we are not sure whether from tomorrow we shall be able to run our busses to bring the students. Therefore, we are in a fix if all the busses can be sent to bring the students, if it is found that some of the busses are not is in a position to bring students due to crisis of fuel then whatever busses are having fuel those cannot be sent to bring a section of students to run the school. We do hope that from the concern authority necessary arrangements will be made so that we can bring all the students and run the school smoothly. Because exam is approaching so we would like to complete their syllabus smoothly. They have theory classes, they have practical classes, whatever classes are there in the curriculum we would like to complete that for the overall benefit of the students,” said Acharya.

However, the drivers complained that they have to wait for several hours in queue for fuel and so it is becoming tiresome and impossible for them to work day after day in such manner.

Kalipada Ghosh, a school bus driver who has been waiting in the queue since early morning till late afternoon said, “It is a big problem for us to get fuel and so our school has declared holiday today. I am waiting in the queue since 4.30 AM and still my turn to come. I am standing for more than 12 hours and how many more will be required for my turn to come I am not sure and if at all I will get that is also not sure as there is huge congestion here. We are told that the roads are in bad shape so oil tankers are not coming. If other vehicles can come then why tankers are not able to come we do not know. This is going on for the past two months.”

Tripura is passing through fuel crisis due to bad road condition in the NH-8 in the Assam part bordering Tripura where the road has turned into slush and thousands of vehicles are stranded there.

To overcome the ongoing fuel crisis the Tripura Government after rationing of petrol had started odd-even distribution on alternate days but there was no much change rather the situation has worsened as after petrol no diesel crisis has also started.

Incessant rain and flooding have made the national highway into more of a muddy field in neighbouring Assam, which has cut off access to the state of Tripura and due to which thousands of loaded trucks and tankers are unable to enter the state leading to crisis of fuel and essential commodities for the past two months.

Credit: BS

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