If you are a Pune resident, the advice would be to ensure that your vehicle has an optimum level of fuel in it. Reason: The Pune Petrol Dealers' Association (PPDA) has threatened to go on a state-wide 'no purchase strike' Wednesday midnight onwards. The PPDA demands that by Wednesday afternoon the locks on the 6,000-odd oil tankers of Pune and the Pimpri-Chichwad Municipal Commission (PCMC) should be replaced by the oil companies free of cost.
The association claims that the master key that fits all the locks of the oil company tankers was stolen from the Loni terminal depot on Monday. Dealers have, in the meanwhile, said that they have given a notice to the oil companies and will review the situation again on Wednesday, before taking a final call on the non-purchase of fuel. This means that the association will be selling fuel only till the stocks last.
At a press conference on Tuesday, PPDA president Baba Dhumal said, "This is the third time that such an incident has happened in a span of a decade. Three years ago, when the master key was stolen, the petrol dealers were forced to pay Rs30,000 for each lock, which is available in the market for a much lesser price, around Rs10,000."
Dhumal added: "Why should the dealers be penalised and made to pay for the lock, when the culprit goes scot-free? We have, therefore, asked the private companies to replace the lock of all the 500 oil tankers that supply oil to Pune and the PCMC by Wednesday; failing which, we will be calling for a state-wide strike."
Speaking about the further action plan, PPDA spokesperson Ali Daruwala said, "We will be following up with the Loni police and with the private companies on this issue on Wednesday. If our demands are not met, we will go ahead with the strike. It would mean that the petrol pumps in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad will be closed from Wednesday midnight."
The public sector undertaking (PSU) officer at Loni terminal said, "The keys were stolen from the terminal premises; therefore, we have initiated an internal inquiry. Strict action will be taken against those who are involved in the theft."
This decision by the PPDA has left the Pune residents in a lurch, as they may face an acute shortage of petrol in the city. They also worry that they may have to pay double or triple the market price for the purchase of fuel.
Head: How does the master key work?
* Before a tanker leaves the oil company terminal, the terminal in-charge locks the tanker with the master key.
* After the oil tanker reaches the petrol pump, the dealer opens the lock with the help of the master key, that is available with the dealer.
* Number of oil tankers that will be off the road in case of a strike: The Loni oil company supplies oil to 2,500 tankers of Hindustan Petroleum (HP), 2,500 tankers of Bharat Petroleum, and 1,500 tankers of Indian Oil Company (IOC). These tankers supply oil across Pune district.