Union petroleum minister Veerappa Moily’s suggestion to shut down petrol pumps between 8pm and 8am to reduce the country’s burgeoning oil consumption has met with a thumbs down from both motorists and industry insiders.
Many said the suggestion was bizarre and absurd.
President of the All-India Motor Transport Congress Malkit Singh said, “Most trucks operate at night. If the pumps are shut down after 8pm, it will hit the road transport industry hard. We will challenge this proposal in court if the government accepts it.”
Singh said his organisation had given a suggestion to the Union government two years ago which would have saved the nation fuel worth Rs87,000 crore annually.
“Precious fuel is wasted at toll nakas while waiting in queues. We had told the government that we are willing to give it more money than what is collected from toll but it shouldn’t force us to be idle at these nakas. There has been no response on this,” Singh said.
In Mumbai, petrol pump owners said the move could create large-scale chaos because statistics with the Petrol Dealers Association show that almost 40% fuel at city’s 247 pumps gets sold between 8pm and 8am.
Ravi Shinde of the Association said, “It could create a law and order situation as infrastructure available with petrol pumps won’t be able to take the load of this 40% that will shift to the day if the shutdown plan is implemented.”
For motorists, part of the horror would be competing with bigger fuel guzzlers, mainly BEST buses, which after the recent hike of Rs12 per litre for bulk fuel, have been opting to replenish their tanks at private depots. The BEST’s yearly fuel bill of Rs141 crore saw a rise of Rs43 crore after the hike.
Currently, around 25 BEST buses from each of the 25 depots fill their tanks at private pumps mostly late at night before the buses enter the home depot for stabling.
Even autorickshaws and taxis in the city tend to fill up their tanks in the night and, even though both use CNG, the fact that their lines would infringe on private vehicle lines is a given, said petrol pump owners.