Dealers express concern over transport of petroleum products by road

The winding up of the nearly four-decade-old storage depot of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) at Kochuveli citing safety issues has resulted in the transportation of petroleum products by road from Kochi to the capital city, giving rise to safety concerns and affecting fuel supply.

With the closure of the storage depot, nearly 120 petrol pumps in the city are forced to bring the petroleum products by road through heavily populated towns. Nearly 25 lakh litres of petrol and high-speed diesel is transported daily by over 100 tankers.

Transporting hydrocarbons by road is a risky affair as the slightest error on the part of a tanker lorry or a road user can result in an inferno.

The motorists in the city also have to pay an additional Re.1 for every litre.

Retail outlet staff say the closure of the storage depot has affected the fuel supply, as the stock has to come all the way from Kochi now. It is a laborious drive and the journey takes nine hours.

Confirming the closure of the storage depot, sources in the IOC told The Hindu that the decision was taken at the highest level on account of safety issues.

The winding up of the depot without making alternative arrangements has come in for criticism from the petroleum dealers.

All the three oil majors had depots at Veli close to the railway track and the IOC was the last to close down its depot this month. At the time of its closing down, nearly 40 loads were being lifted daily from the Veli depot.

The petroleum dealers and the Trivandrum Chamber of Commerce and Industry have taken up the issue with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor.

Chamber president S.N. Raghuchandran Nair has urged Mr. Chandy to intervene to find a viable solution to prevent disasters of the scale as that at Karunagapally and Chala in Kannur.

The chamber has called for expanding the depot in the city by relocating it to a more spacious campus; setting up more depots in Kollam, Kayamkulam, Thrissur, and Kozhikode; and encouraging transport of petroleum products by rail rather than road.

The IOC has communicated to Mr. Tharoor that it is ready to set up a storage depot in the city if 16 hectares of land is provided to it. As land acquisition of 16 hectares will be difficult, it has been pointed out that providing land at Vizhinjam will suffice as the petroleum products can be brought by sea.