As part of the nationwide strike by petroleum dealers, outlets in the State will plant black flags on their establishments from today.

About 3,800 outlets will have the flags planted indefinitely till their demand for an increased commission is met. But unlike the rest of the nation where petrol may be available only for 8-10 hours, outlets in Tamil Nadu will remain open for 16-24 hours.

“We don’t want to punish consumers who are already reeling under the power outage. All the outlets and trucks carrying products from major oil companies will hold black flags. Plus, dealers and the staff will wear black badges,” said K. Suresh Kumar, vice president of Tamil Nadu Petroleum Dealers Association.

At present, the Central government has fixed Rs. 1,499 and Rs. 912 as commission for every 1,000 litres of petrol and diesel, respectively. In 2010, the Apoorva Chandra committee appointed by the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas recommended that the commission be Rs. 1,612 for every 1,000 litres of petrol and Rs. 925 for every 1,000 litres of diesel. The committee also suggested a review every six months based on current rate of fuel, wage structure and Consumer Price Index .

As two years have passed since the committee made its recommendations, Mr. Suresh Kumar said that there must be an increase in commission of Rs. 650 and Rs. 420 for every 1,000 litres of petrol and diesel respectively. This means they want Rs. 2,149 for every 1,000 litres of petrol and Rs. 1,332 for every 1,000 litres of diesel as the new commission.

The dealers would wait for another 15 days and if the government didn’t yield, then they too would go on a single shift and function only for 8-10 hours, Mr. Suresh Kumar said.

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