Pump dealers selling compressed natural gas (CNG) in Gujarat will go on an indefinite strike from March 3 demanding an increase in their dealer margins.
The Federation of Gujarat Petroleum Dealers’ Association (FGPDA) has called for a state-wide indefinite strike from 7 am on March 3.
This means about 900 CNG stations owned and operated by dealers of public sector players Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum and Indian Oil Corporation, besides state-run Gujarat Gas and dealers of the private player Adani Gas, will stop selling CNG to auto consumers. Gujarat has the largest CNG stations network in the country, followed by Uttar Pradesh at 698 stations. The number of CNG stations in Gujarat has jumped by about 31 per cent in the past two years, from 738 CNG stations as of January 2021.
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Speaking to businessline, Gopal Chudasama, CNG Coordinator for FGPDA, said for the past 55 months (or for more than four years), there was no revision in margins for CNG station dealers. “The Federation had raised this matter with the Ministry, but there was no breakthrough. Now, it has been 55 months in which we had a tough time during Covid. But there was no revision in margins from the gas companies,” said Chudasama.
According to him, during Covid times, an agreement was reached for a 10 per cent hike every two years in the dealer margin. “This was also never implemented,” said Chudasama over a call from Rajkot.
In a statement, Arvind Thakkar, FGPDA President, said the last revision was done in 2017.
Now, the Federation is demanding a 50 per cent hike in the existing dealer margin and an assurance for a 10 per cent hike every year thereon. The dealer’s margin works out to about 18 paise per kg. Thakkar further said the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (PNGRB) was informed about their demands and the likely strike call in a letter written on February 22, 2023, which according to Thakkar, did not receive any response. Also, there have been about a dozen rounds of meetings between the Federation and the Oil PSUs, which, too, failed to resolve the issue.
According to dealer estimates, there are about 12 lakh CNG autorickshaws and about six lakh four-wheelers, besides commercial vehicles such as public transport buses and goods carriage vehicles that run on CNG in the state. The strike call, it is feared, will halt the movement of all these vehicles.