The biggest cooking gas distributors' group in the north-east has said it will shut down the LPG dealers' network in Assam if the state government did not vaccinate their entire lot of delivery staff within a week.
Some other north-east states - Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh - have designated LPG delivery staff as frontline workers.
"From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, LPG distributors across the country are tirelessly distributing cylinders to customers even in containment zones, following all safety guidelines, risking their lives like all other frontline workers," said Prabin Hazarika, general secretary of the North East Indane Distributors Association.
"The government has considered vaccination on priority for the medical workers, police, media and defence personnel, sweepers and other safai workers at Covid care centres, except our delivery staff," the LPG distributors' group said in a statement.
"Our delivery staff risk their life by going inside containment zones to deliver LPG cylinders but the government has not given priority to vaccinate LPG delivery staff. We urged to clear their stand within seven days about the vaccination drive for LPG delivery staff and distributors, and if they failed to do so, then we will shut down the entire LPG distribution network in Assam," said Ashok Kumar Bishaya, chief of the association.
Some 850 LPG distributors are members of this group; 440 of them are in Assam.
Three LPG distribution officials, two from Indian Oil Corporation, have died of Covid in Assam, the association said, adding it has been writing to the Assam government since April 26 with concerns on Covid.
Indian Oil Corporation has also taken up the matter with the Assam government and the issue is being discussed at the highest level, sources have told NDTV, adding they are yet to hear from the state government.
"The present surge of Covid cases is more aggressive unlike last year... Our frontline workers this time are reluctant to get themselves involved in LPG distribution unless they are vaccinated," Mr Hazarika said.
"We have decided to close down from next week unless the government recognises us as frontline workers..." the association said in the statement.