Truckers' protest | Fuel pumps in Punjab see panic buying over fears of stocks running out

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita is set to replace the colonial-era Indian Penal Code

Updated - January 02, 2024 05:26 pm IST

Published - January 02, 2024 04:18 pm IST - Chandigarh/Ludhiana/Ambala

Heavy rush at a petrol pump following the nationwide strike of oil tankers over new provisions regarding hit-and-run cases under Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, in Amritsar.

Heavy rush at a petrol pump following the nationwide strike of oil tankers over new provisions regarding hit-and-run cases under Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, in Amritsar. | Photo Credit: PTI

Motorists queued up at fuel stations at many places in Punjab and Haryana on January 2 over fears that stocks would run dry soon with truckers keeping off the roads to protest stricter punishments in the new law on hit-and-run cases.

In Haryana, private bus operators and some auto-rickshaw unions have also joined the protest against the new provision and some petrol pumps in Ambala reported a shortage of fuel. Chandigarh, the common capital of the twin States, too saw vehicle owners panic-buying fuel.

Also Read | Truck drivers across States protest Centre’s new law on hit-and-run cases

Under the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, which is set to replace the colonial-era Indian Penal Code, drivers who cause serious road accidents due to negligent driving and run away without informing police or the administration face up to 10 years in prison or a fine of ₹7 lakh.

Long queues at fuelling stations in Jalandhar as truck drivers strike against new hit-and-run law

Truckers in several States launched a three-day protest against the "stringent provision" on Monday. The situation in Punjab on the second day of the agitation prompted the petroleum dealers association to shoot off a letter to the government over the "panic buying" situation in fuel stations affecting stock supplies.

Secretary general of the Punjab Petroleum Dealers Association Rajesh Kumar said there are nearly 4,000 petrol pumps in the State and fuel supply has been affected due to the agitation since Monday.

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"As the news spread that truck drivers were holding protests and have gone on strike, people rushed to fuel stations... We are also not getting replenishment of stocks due to the strike... As these drivers are holding protests, they are also not allowing oil tankers to enter depots to get fuel stocks," he alleged.

"If this situation continues, we are staring at a dry-out situation soon which prompted us to write a letter to the Punjab chief minister...," Mr. Kumar added.

Ravinder Singh Khalsa, a truck driver, said they are demanding the withdrawal of the "stringent provisions" in the new law.

Also Read | Fuel stations in Hyderabad go dry as motorists queue up

"The new law is against the interest of drivers. Nobody intentionally wants to injure or cause anyone's death, but accidents happen. In such cases, people turn against the driver and sometimes the mob damages the vehicle and causes harm to the driver too. We demand that the new law be amended," truck operator Sushil Kumar added.

In Ludhiana, the supply of goods has also been affected as truck drivers protested on highways, according to Pankaj Sharma, secretary of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertaking.

"The transport of consignments to different places has already been badly hit," he added.

Sanjeev Garg, a petrol pump owner in Ludhiana, said he would continue selling fuel till his stock ran out. He said he had not received any fresh supply of fuel since Monday.

Long queues were witnessed at cooking gas agency offices as well. There was panic-buying of gas cylinders as people were apprehensive of its shortage if the strike continued longer.

With trucks, tempos and containers keeping off the roads, the supply of fruits and vegetables is also likely to be impacted, according to some traders.

In Haryana's Ambala, some petrol stations have already reported a shortage of petrol and diesel as no fresh supply has been received in the last two days, the president of the petroleum dealers association Ravinder Singh Dhillon said.

He said fuel is supplied to the region from Rewari, Hisar and Panipat depots but various truck unions were not letting tankers supply fresh petrol and diesel stocks.

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"The oil tankers have been stranded there for the last two days. Most of the petrol pumps have stocks for hardly one or two days. If the supply is not restored immediately, we will have to shut down the pumps," Mr. Dhillon said.

A petrol pump owner in Ambala City Rajesh Khosla said he would have to shut down by the evening if supply was not restored.

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