Loud protests greet SK Srivastava at Oil India

Vol 15, PW 22 (17 May 12) People & Policy

Oil India’s offices in Assam have been hit by shutdowns and protests since SK Srivastava took charge as CMD on May 1.

Angry locals reportedly want Srivastava removed because he is not from Assam, unlike his predecessor NM Borah. An Oil India source reports that protestors blocked roads and disrupted Oil India work for 48-hours beginning April 30.

Things calmed down for a few days until May 12 when Srivastava arrived at the company’s Duliajan headquarters. Since then there has been chaos, with the All Assam Students Union calling for another six-day shutdown.

“Locals block roads and stop all cars with Oil India stickers,” reports our source. “They force drivers and passengers out, grab car keys, lock the cars and leave!” He adds that many company employees have been stranded at the office for up to 48-hours because roadblocks prevent them getting home.

Luckily no Oil India production or drilling work has been disrupted, as the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) guards Oil India assets in Assam and other north-eastern states. When contacted, Srivastava, from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, denied he’s facing trouble.

“There’s no issue of Assamese or non-Assamese,” he said. “There’s no shutdown.

Don’t believe these rumours.” Other senior Oil India officials laud their new boss citing his determination to see the company receive ‘Maharatna’ status - government recognition for high achieving state-owned companies.

“He has asked us to accelerate oil production beyond 4m t/y,” says one supporter. But this might seem a tall order, given that 95% of Oil India workers are from Assam, and most seem determined to make life difficult for their new chief.

“Some unskilled workers might create problems,” warns our source, “or even sabotage production.”