The Tamil Nadu Petroleum Dealers’ Association feels elated over the move of the Tamil Nadu Government to allow the State-run fleet of buses to purchase diesel from private outlets.
However, there is widespread apprehension among consumers across the State that such a move would result in heavy demand for diesel in private petrol pumps and therefore lead to scarcity of the fuel.
“Such a fear is unfounded,” said K.P. Murali, State treasurer of the Association. He told The Hindu that after the Oil Marketing Companies (OMC) had increased the price of diesel by Rs. 11 a litre for the bulk consumers the State Transport Corporation (STC) had begun to feel the pinch.
Obviously, there is an apprehension among the consumers that the outlets would hereafter accord priority to the STC buses, constricting the supply line to them.
Mr. Murali said that there were about 4,000 private outlets in the State and all of them were fully equipped to handle the situation. The Association had instructed its members to place indent with the OMCs to get their full requirements.
Mr. Murali said that the OMCs had already given consent to supply the required quantum of fuel to the outlets.
Therefore, in his opinion it could not be considered as a strategy to bypass the duel pricing policy of the OMCs.
The Association was also having talks with the STC officials to work out the modalities for tanking up fuel to the buses.
Moreover, the Association had suggested that the STC officials, who were till now managing its fuel depots, could be deputed to the retail outlets to monitor the filling operation and to maintain the log books.
Mr. Murali said that already private bus owners were getting the fuel from the outlets in an orderly manner and as such getting dozen more STC buses would not impose any burden on the outlets.
He was assertive that in no way the retail consumers would be inconvenienced by the new development because the outlets would take all possible measures to keep adequate stock.
Mr. Murali also pointed out that the STC buses taking the East Coast Road had started purchasing fuel from the outlets located in the Union Territory of Puducherry, thereby having a price advantage of Rs. 2.70 a litre of diesel (Puducherry price — Rs. 49.05 a litre, Tamil Nadu price — Rs. 51.75 a litre).
However, he did not have any answer to query as to what would happen to the STC buses if the dealers go on strike (demanding higher commission on petroleum products): would the entire fleet be grounded and the people would be denied of the public transport facility.
As for the advantage for the outlets, Mr. Murali said that certainly the sales would get a boost.