Indian Oil Corporation has decided to shut down five out of its eight depots in Orissa including the one in Berhampur.
The public sector oil company aims to rationalize its operations across the country and has decided to close the very old and small depots on grounds of safety.
Besides Berhampur, the company will close its depots at Sambalpur, Paradeep, Rourkela, Talcher and Jeypore. While the Berhampur depot may be closed at any time, the other depots would be shut in a phased manner, said VRamgopal, general manager, IOC and head of the company's Orissa operations.
Meanwhile, the company has decided to set up a modern depot at Jharsuguda in western Orissa at an investment of about Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion). The proposed depot would have the capacity of around 60,000 kilo litre.
The company is now scouting for suitable land in Jharsuguda for this purpose.
At present, the company has a modern depot at Jatni, about 200-km from here. The capacity of this depot is 40,000 KL. But only 25,000 KL of petroleum products are stored in it at present.
The company has decided to set up the biggest depot of the state at Jharsuguda keeping in view the upcoming industries in sectors like steel, aluminium and power in the region, said Ramgopal.
After the closure of the depot at Berhampur, the petroleum products would be supplied to Ganjam and Kandhamal districts in south Orissa from the Jatni depot, he stated. The IOC's decision to close its Berhampur depot has, however, sparked off resentment here. The members of Ganjam Bikash Manch, the Berhampur-based organisation staged demonstration in front of the depot office here recently during the visit of two senior officials of IOC.
The people of south Orissa, especially those in Ganjam district would not get the petroleum products at the time of natural disasters, if the depot at Berhampur is closed, said Suresh Sahu, convener of the manch.
Apart from Ganjam, the Berhampur depot of IOC also caters to the need of petroleum products in Kandhamal district. The IOC's Berhampur depot is one of the oldest depots of the company and it should not be closed keeping in view the benefits of the people of south Orissa, felt the members of the manch.
The members also apprehended a rise in prices of petroleum products if these are supplied from Jatni to south Orissa because of the high transportation costs.
IOC, however, feels that the depot at Berhampur needed to be closed on safety grounds. "The Berhampur depot is very old and it is operating at the risk of safety. So the company has decided to close this depot and to supply the petroleum products from the Jatni depot", said Ramgopal.