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Jan 9, 2009

Coimbatore Struggling For Petrol & Disel

Two-wheeler riders queue up at a petrol pump on Trichy Road and an employee indicates the non-availablity of fuel at an outlet on Nanjappa Road in the city on Thursday. Fuel outlets of Indian Oil Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corporation in and around Coimbatore city witnessed heavy rush on Thursday and most of them ran out of fuel stock by afternoon. Around 40 fuel outlets of Hindusthan Petroleum Corporation had stocks to cater to the motorists’ demands.

The two-day old strike by public sector oil company officers seeking rise in remuneration resulted in most of the bunks going without refills for the second day on Thursday. When news about failure to reach a solution to end the strike spread, motorists thronged pumps and resorted to panic buying. Long queues of vehicles formed at almost all of the pumps by afternoon. Many pumps sported “Sorry No Stock” boards as the day progressed resulting in creating more panic among the public. Early in the morning, the petroleum outlets resorted to a self-styled regulation and rationing. They were providing only three to four litres for two-wheelers and only half tank for four-wheelers. Some of the outlets refused to provide fuel for four-wheelers.

In most of the petrol bunks, premium fuel too got exhausted. In most of the fuel outlets supply in bottles and cans were stopped as a measure to stop hoarding and black marketing. In Coimbatore alone, Indian Oil Corporation enjoys a market share of over 45 per cent followed by Bharat Petroleum, 35 per cent and Hindusthan Petroleum Corporation. Of the nearly 240 to 250 fuel outlets in the district, close to 120 of them went dry in the morning and the rest by afternoon. According to sources, nearly 35 Hindusthan Petroleum Corporation pumps alone had fuel stocks, as its officials were not participating in the strike.

Petroleum outlets of Indian Oil Corporation alone require 140 truck loads every day. Normally these loads are sourced from Cochin – Karur pipeline at the Irugur terminal plant. BPCL sourced it from Kochi. More than 100 truck loads was the need for Bharat Petroleum Corporation outlets. Hindusthan Petroleum Corporation outlets started catering to the increased demand from Thursday afternoon caused by the dry outlets of Indian Oil and Bharat Petroleum Corporation. HPCL officials have stepped up the despatch of loads to the markets in Western Tamil Nadu to make sure that HPCL outlets never went dry because of the spurt in demand.

President of the Petroleum Dealers Association of one of the PSUs, M. Viswanathan said that to resolve the problem and to end the agony of the public, the Petroleum Ministry and Government should come forward to meet the legitimate demands of the officials of the corporations, reduce the prices of fuel and fix dealer commission on the basis of percentage instead of litre. The pending issues concerning the petroleum industry could be overcome by implementing these measures. Officials of HPCL and the district administration said there was no need for panic buying as HPCL was not participating in the strike.

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