Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh: High fuel prices push vehicles to T.N., Karnataka

A fuel station at Katpadi, on the Chittoor-Vellore highway, attracts customers by displaying the higher prices in Andhra Pradesh, and offering 1 kg Basmati rice to those buying 100 litres of diesel.

A fuel station at Katpadi, on the Chittoor-Vellore highway, attracts customers by displaying the higher prices in Andhra Pradesh, and offering 1 kg Basmati rice to those buying 100 litres of diesel. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

With petrol and diesel prices reaching the highest-ever levels in Chittoor district on Tuesday, it led to a furore among a cross-section of people, particularly in the areas bordering Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

People of Kuppam, Ramakuppam, Gudupalle, and Shantipuram mandals in Kuppam Assembly Constituency, bordering the neighboring States, are finding their way to the petrol outlets in Kammasamudra, Kembapuram, and Bangarpet in Karnataka, and also to Vepanapalle, Chinnamattapalle, Pachhur and Vaniyambadi in Tamil Nadu to top up the tanks of their vehicles.

Compared to the Chittoor district, the price there varies by ₹10 to ₹11 for a litre of petrol and ₹6 to ₹7 for diesel.

A majority of the people reaching out to the border towns work in the agriculture sector, construction industry, road works, and granite quarries. As machinery such as earthmovers, tractors and rigs require a huge amount of diesel, their owners are left with no option but to reach out to border areas.

An earthmover from the Kuppam would reach the nearest petrol pump in Tamil Nadu or Karnataka to fill its tank, apart from carrying several cans to maintain a reserve for a week.

Several vehicles plying on the highway through Andhra Pradesh invariably fill their fuel tanks before entering Chittoor district.

Jitender Singh, a lorry driver from Haryana, who was filling the diesel at Ponpadi in Tiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu, said that he was on the way to Chennai. “I knew right from several months that the fuel price in Andhra Pradesh is considered very high compared to all other States. So, we strictly follow our owners’ precautions before passing through Andhra Pradesh. We can’t pay a higher price after knowing the situation here,” he said.

Losing customers

Speaking to The Hindu, several petrol pump owners in towns closer to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka border said that in the last week, the highway vehicles, even those that have been regular to their outlets for years, and the local customers have been avoiding the pumps, and going to fill their tanks in neighboring States.

They admitted that a difference of ₹10 and beyond was too much for the common man, particularly farmers and daily wagers. “If this situation continues, it would be very tough for the petrol pumps (in Chittoor district) close to the borders of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka,” said a owner at Chittoor.

A similar situation prevailed with the petrol outlets elsewhere in Punganur, Palamaner (in Chittoor district), and Madanapalle (in Annamayya) as the customers’ preference tilted towards the border towns of Karnataka. Most petrol pumps in the Chittoor district were seen with a very thin presence of customers on Tuesday.

“Those who regularly fill their tanks for ₹100, have now hiked the demand to ₹200,” a petrol pump attendant on Chittoor-Bengaluru National Highway said.

Cross-border trade

The Tirupati-Chennai highway, the high-density traffic route, is a silent witness to this ‘cross border trade’.

A. Suresh, owner of an Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) outlet in Nagari, the State’s last town towards Chennai, says the entire sand and stone quarrying units in the region have shifted their fuel procurement to Tamil Nadu. There are as many as four stations between Nagari and Pallipattu (Tamil Nadu) just across the border, preying on travellers to and from Andhra Pradesh.

The Tamil Nadu government’s decision to reduce VAT on petroleum products, taken immediately after M.K. Stalin took over as Chief Minister, resulted in a dip of ₹4, further widening the existing gap of around ₹6, which sounded the death-knell for the bordering fuel stations.

“The only way we are surviving is by liberally giving credit to transport operators and bus services”, Mr. Suresh said. He had also representated to the company to reduce VAT at least in the bordering areas to save them from the brink of collapse.

Nagari, a weavers’ hub, has many cross-border travellers who commute to Podatturpettai, Pallipattu and Tiruthani. “There are outlets just 5 km away from Nagari. Motorcyclists fill 10 litres of petrol to save ₹110, which is a sizeable amount”, observes C.E. Mohan Kumar, an academician working in an engineering college in Tiruthani.

Freebies

The situation is no different on the Chittoor-Vellore highway, which is yet another route that frequently witnesses ‘border area clamour’. The petrol stations clearly display the petrol and diesel prices in Andhra Pradesh, so as to woo the long distance travellers to their side. They seem to have no qualms in openly publicising this difference. Apart from the ‘locational advantage’, one station in Katpadi even offers 1 kg of Basmati rice to those buying 100 litres of diesel, which many feel is certain to attract the attention of long-distance trucks.


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Printable version | Jul 26, 2022 11:14:44 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/andhra-pradesh-high-fuel-prices-push-vehicles-to-tn-karnataka/article65292955.ece