Long queues outside petrol stations in a knee-jerk reaction to increase in petrol prices are not unusual. However, many who rushed to nearby petrol outlets to tank up before midnight — when the price hike of no less than Rs. 4 would come into effect — were faced with “No stock” boards.
On hearing of reports that petrol stations had started turning away customers across the city, Transport Minister R. Ashok, who currently holds the additional portfolio of the Food and Civil Supplies Ministry, conducted “raids” at four key fuel outlets, where he is understood to have threatened to shut them down.
Reacting to this unprecedented development, petrol dealers complained they were being “unnecessarily targeted” when oil companies had conveniently stopped supplying at 3 p.m. itself, 90 minutes ahead of their closing time for the day.
To this, an unimpressed Minister said this was no excuse and the outlets were obligated to supply fuel stocked. “Violators will be punished,” he added.
When contacted, a senior IOC official dismissed the charge as baseless, saying oil depots were functioning till 4.30 p.m.
Though some petrol stations removed their “No stock” boards after word of the raid went around, several continued to turn away customers all evening. At least two outlets on Mahatma Gandhi Road, one in Benson Town and New Thippasandra, to name a few, continued to display these boards late into the night.
An angry customer, Byra Gowda Suresh, said: “How can they turn us away? This is the fourth petrol station I am visiting and, obviously the queue is endless.”
The fuel hike, he said, has become a “routine joke”.
“Every third month they are hiking the price.”
Another motorist in the queue pointed out that the diesel price hike would also tell on food and vegetable prices.