AIZAWL: Mizoram is currently facing an acute shortage of petrol and diesel following a dispute over transportation costs between an oil company and a Mizoram-based oil transporters forum.

The shortage came amid the re-opening of schools in the state. 

A minister, however, said on Thursday that the oil supply will resume and is expected to get normal soon.

Mizoram imports petrol and diesel mostly from Assam. 

Supply has been disrupted since first April when Mizoram IOCL Transporters Forum (MITF) launched an agitation refusing to transport oil at a rate fixed by Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) and demanded a hike. 

The forum also blocked other private transporters to transport petrol and diesel to the state.

The forum chairman K Lalnghakliana said that the IOCL has recently fixed the transportation cost at a rate lower than in 2016.

He said that the new rate was not acceptable for the local transporters as they have been incurring significant losses with the existing rate since 2016.

He said that the forum held discussions with the oil company on several occasions to settle the dispute but to no avail.

Although the oil company has signed agreements with a few outsiders at the new rate, Lalnghakliana said they want local transporters to transport oil in order to prevent possible temperament with petrol and diesel. 

There were instances of LPG being tampered with by outsiders in the past and the same incident could happen with oil if only transporters from outside the state are allowed to transport it, he said.

The leader also urged the state government to set up oil depots to prevent future crises.

Almost all filling stations in the state capital have been closed since Wednesday due to being out of stock despite oil rationing by the government 

On Thursday, when this reporter visited some places in Aizawl where petrol and diesel were clandestinely sold, not a single litre of oil was available for purchase.

The shortage has hit hard commuters, including parents, who were greatly inconvenienced to drop and pick up their children from school. 

In Aizawl, which witnesses traffic congestion almost every day, the number of vehicles plying the streets was scanty on Thursday. 

Meanwhile, state supply minister K. Lalrinliana said that the government was taking steps to resume oil supply.

He said that they have decided to send oil tankers from the state police and a public undertaking unit to transport petrol and diesel from Assam.

The minister said that the government has been making efforts to settle the dispute between the IOCL and MITF since February to ensure that supply is not disrupted. 

The MITF in a statement in the late evening on Thursday said that it will temporarily call off its agitation in order to ease the public. 

The move was taken on compassionate and voluntary grounds and it did not indicate that the forum has succumbed to the IOCL’s new rate, the statement said.

K Lalnghakliana said that some of its members were expected to begin transporting oil from Friday. 

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