Nearly 1400 petrol pumps of public sector oil companies across Kerala remained closed on Monday to protest the decision of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) to start new pumps in the State.

All pumps, except 20 directly run by oil companies and those of Kerala state Civil Supplies Corporation, will remain closed from 6 AM to 6 PM, All Kerala Federation of Petroleum Traders said.

Federation Secretary M. Radhakrishnan told PTI that dealers took out a march to the HPCL terminal at nearby Irumpanam to protest the proposed set up of petrol pumps.

HPCL sources here said the company had only placed advertisements for some new locations and it was not clear how many would actually come up. They said only 40 of the 800 locations advertised last year by the oil companies came up and the figures were likely to be the same this year as well.

They said more outlets were required with increase in vehicular traffic and consequent increase in demand for petroleum products.

The traders claim that the decision to start new pumps was taken without assessing economic viability.

Radhakrishnan said around 700-800 pumps are expected to be started this fiscal year in Kerala by IOC, HPCL and BPCL.

Of this, HPCL would start 349 new pumps, he said.

New pumps being set up near existing pumps will reduce sales volume, he said, adding 78 per cent of pumps are able to sell only 3300 litres of petroleum products a day.

Dealers said their margins are further reduced due to high labour cost and banking charges and wanted the commission charges to be revised.

They said they get only Rs 1.10 gross commission per litre of petrol and 67 paise for diesel. The net commission works out to 5-6 paise per litre for petrol, they said.

Keywords: KeralaKochiHPCLPetrol pumps