ANDHRA PRADESH

Petrol price hike a burning issue

CAUSE FOR CONCERN: A long queue outside the Civil Supplies Filling Station near Secretariat in Hyderabad on Monday. Photo: P. V. Sivakumar

CAUSE FOR CONCERN: A long queue outside the Civil Supplies Filling Station near Secretariat in Hyderabad on Monday. Photo: P. V. Sivakumar  

Buying spree by vehicle-owners at some outlets in city

Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD: Monday dealt a double trouble for vehicle-owners in the city. If the strike by petroleum dealers had many sweating it out in search of far-flung company outlets, the announcement of the hike in petrol and diesel prices landed the second and a more painful blow. Many had taken the strike call lightly as there was no noticeable rush at petrol pumps on Sunday. However, the news of the price hike that tore into the commoner's pocket after a seven-month freeze set the alarm bells ringing and what ensued was utter pandemonium.

Long queues

Free-for-all melees took over at the 20 outlets belonging to the public sector oil companies BPC, IBP, Hindustan Petroleum and Indian Oil Corporation and the State Civil Supplies Corporation filling station near the Secretariat, which remained open to meet the needs of vehicle users, as the public thronged them with bottles and whatever containers that came handy. Lengthy lines of vehicles of all sorts ensured that the usual traffic jams were extended beyond the usual distances and periods.

Meanwhile, dealers who had closed shop from Sunday midnight, claimed that their strike was "total". Alleging that oil companies had not kept their promise made during August 2001 to compensate losses incurred by the dealers due to temperature variation, the dealers also threatened to launch an indefinite strike from July 18 if their demands were not met.

The Andhra Pradesh Federation of Petroleum Traders, which said that the talks between their parent organisation and the Government to settle their long-standing differences over dealers' commission among other issues had failed in Delhi on Monday, said they were left with no option but to go on strike.

At the same time, they indirectly welcomed the hike, terming it a "move that could not be avoided in the present circumstances in the international oil scenario." The Federation, in a statement said their immediate demands were a five per cent dealer commission and implementation of the accord signed and agreed by the oil industry.

Interestingly, even before the price changes in the city came out, the Auto Drivers Joint Action Committee demanded an increase in the fare to Rs.10 for the first 1.6 km and Rs.6 for every subsequent kilometre.

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