Fuel shortage sparks rush, traffic snarls

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desperation: Commuters crowding a petrol bunk with water cans and pots for diesel at Kodambakkam in Chennai on Monday.
desperation: Commuters crowding a petrol bunk with water cans and pots for diesel at Kodambakkam in Chennai on Monday.

Special Correspondent

IOC admits to shortage of diesel, but says problem is temporary

CHENNAI: Petrol bunks across Chennai and its suburbs on Monday witnessed a rush for automobile fuels never seen in a long time, as several of the outlets reported ‘stock out,’ particularly of diesel.

The long line of vehicles, which spilled on to the roads, led to traffic snarls on several stretches. The police had to step in to restore order.

Frayed tempers and heated arguments were common at the bunks, where customers taking the spree of panic buying to a new high came with large containers. There were also complaints of petrol shortage.

In a release, issued on behalf of the national oil marketing companies in the State, Indian Oil Corporation said there was a “supply problem,” but it was temporary. It was owing to delayed receipt of diesel through coastal tankers by Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd, as a result of which there was pressure on IOC and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd outlets. The BPCL tanker was expected in 24 hours, the release said.

To restore order, the State government called for a meeting of senior officials of the companies. Sources in the companies said they were asked details and instructed to ensure that the outlets did not go dry.

Later in the evening, a State government release said its senior officials reviewed the petrol and diesel shortage at the outlets. It discussed whether the outlets in the State were compelling the customers to buy branded fuel and the action taken against outlets found hoarding.

Chief Secretary held discussions with senior officials of the companies with regard to the sales position and the stock availability. Officials of the companies were directed to take immediate steps to ensure that enough stock of petrol and diesel was available for sale.

Request to Deora

Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, the release said, also requested Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Murali Deora to intervene and set right the problem.

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