Consumers in State fear inconvenience without 24-hour petrol pumps

At the 24-hour Dilkush petrol bunk at Nadakkavu here, Balakrishnan M., fuel attendant, is getting ready to spend a lonely Sunday night at the pump, with just his mobile phone for company.

The bunk, one of the three which operate round the clock in the city, usually sees busy nights, with trucks, cars loaded with people half-asleep and school buses rolling in to fill their tanks.

But if the Petroleum Ministry has its way, all this will come to a stop.

“I heard that the Ministry wants to stop 24-hour petrol pumps in cities to save petrol. Have they already started doing it?” Mr. Balakrishnan says stopping in his tracks while rushing between vehicles waiting to fill up.

Proposal

The Ministry has mooted a proposal to stop the functioning of 24-hour petrol bunks in cities between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. as an austerity measure to check the fall of the rupee and to lessen the impact of the rising crude prices.

“This is nothing short of nonsense. Instead of controlling the fuel prices, the government comes up with such ideas. If you need fuel, how will the timing of when you get your fuel curb the demand?

Use not to come down

This measure, if it becomes a reality, will not stop people from using petrol. It will only cause inconvenience,” Mohammed Riyaz, a businessman who just zipped into the bunk in his SUV, says.

Consumers say that changing bunk timings will result in practical inconveniences, especially in Tier-3 cities where the roads are narrow and traffic is heavy during peak hours.

Petrol bunk employees say that at nights, most of their customers are people travelling long distances, school buses, trucks and even ambulances.

Changing the time will only result in long queues.

“Financial discipline cannot be attained by regulating bunk timings. Besides, such contrived means of regulation will lead to fuel hoarding and black-marketing. This kind of curfew on fuel will also affect commercial vehicles transporting goods inter-State, especially in Tier-3 cities where there are only a few 24-hour bunks,” P.T.S. Unni, president, Calicut Chamber of Commerce, says.

“Not everybody keeps their fuel tanks full; if there is a personal emergency at home, this so-called austerity measure may prove fatal,” Valsala Narayanan, a retired teacher, says.

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