While the world discusses the fuel crisis in Sri Lanka — Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday had announced that the island nation was down to its last day of petrol — Tripura, the northeastern state, is struggling with its own fuel crisis.
The tiny northeastern state has ordered for rationing of fuel, as stocks run dry.
The reason behind this shortage: snapping of an arterial railway line and roads as floodwaters inundated 29 districts of Assam leaving at least nine people dead, five of them in rain-induced landslides.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s going on in Tripura and the reason for the scarcity of fuel.
Fuel crisis in Tripura
For the last week, people in Tripura have resorted to rationing of petroleum products owing to a shortage of the commodity.
A recent government order has mandated that two-wheeler owners could only get fuel worth Rs 200 in a day, while for three-wheeler owners, it has been capped at Rs 300. Owners of four-wheelers could buy fuel for up to Rs 1,000 per day.
The new rates have been implemented from Wednesday till further orders, said a News18 report.
Across the state, people lined up in serpentine queues at petrol pumps to get their hands on the precious commodity.
Motorcyclists wait for refilling at a fuel station in Agartala, Wednesday, May 18, 2022. Long queues were witnessed outside fuel stations due to Assam-Tripura road blockade. pic.twitter.com/deqnkosF6p
— Alok Kumar (@dmalok) May 18, 2022
LH Darlong, principal secretary to Tripura transport department, was quoted as telling The Daily Star that the stock for petrol will last for eight days and diesel for five, which is a matter of concern.
Commenting on the shortage of fuel, Samar Bhattacherjee, a filling station owner, was quoted as telling CNBCTV18, “The Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOC) has rationed the supply so that the stock lasts till the crisis is over. I need two tankers, whereas I am getting one a day, and now this shall also come on alternate days. People need to cooperate.”
Tripura’s Food and Civil Supplies Director Tapan Kumar Das confirmed the fuel rationing orders. He told The Hindu, “There are enough stocks of fuel but we started providing petrol and diesel in limited quantities from 17 May. We are in touch with the Assam and Meghalaya Governments for transporting essentials and fuel by road.”
Why the shortage?
The main reason for the shortage of fuel in Tripura can be attributed to the continuous downpour and subsequent damage to the tracks in Assam.
Landslides triggered by heavy rains have caused massive damage to the National Highway, bringing vehicular movement to a standstill. This has caused a block in the supply chain of fuel from Assam to Tripura.
Tripura is surrounded on three-sides sided by Bangladesh and connected by the lone national Highway Number 8 through Assam, which is considered its lifeline.
Rail connectivity has also been hit; the Northeast Frontier Railway on Tuesday said that train tracks in Assam’s Lumding-Badarpur section have been damaged. Rail links with Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur and Assam’s Barak Valley have been disrupted, it said.
A top official of Tripura Food and Civil supplies department told EastMojo, “Some parts of Assam have been affected by landslide and flood like situations. These are, indeed, going to affect our state as well. The railway tracks were washed away by heavy floods. Most of the time we purchase petroleum products and other essential commodities through railways, but it seems impossible now. We are trying to bring in all essential commodities and petroleum products by road.”
The flood situation in Assam has deteriorated, causing more concern for the neighbouring state in Tripura. According to Assam State Disaster Management Authority, 1,413 villages are under water and Nagaon is the worst hit district where 2.88 lakh people are reeling under the calamity. In Cachar nearly 1.2 lakh people and in Hojai more than 1.07 lakh people were affected.
What next for Tripura?
Fearing that railway lines won’t be restored soon if the rain continues, Tripura government is contemplating to transport essentials into the state through Chittagong port in Bangladesh.
The principal secretary to the Tripura transport department in a PTI report said, “Even though the Assam-Agartala national highway is opened for vehicular movement, disruption in train service for a long period will have an adverse impact on the normal supply of essential items to Tripura. That is why we are planning to bring essentials by using an alternative way – the Haldia-Chittagong-Akhaura-Agartala transhipment route to transport essential items on an emergency basis.”
With inputs from agencies