"We have just now been made aware of this decision by the petroleum dealers through media reports", a senior Petroleum Ministry source said when queried about the dealers' decision to shut fuel bunks every Sunday starting May 14 to protest the public sector oil companies' failure to hike dealer margins. The consortium had taken a similar decision a few years back, but did not implement the same after oil marketing companies opposed the move, he said.
The Association leader Suresh Kumar said that the consortium of Indian petroleum dealers chose to shut their shops every Sunday in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Haryana for 24 hours.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked people to contribute to fuel reduction in his first Mann Ki Baat [on All India Radio] and that has inspired us", the Association President said.
Kumar, also the Vice-President of Tamil Nadu Petroleum Dealers Association, said almost 20,000 outlets in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Haryana would be shut for 24 hours on Sundays, starting May 14.
Ashok Nareddi of the Telangana Petroleum Dealers Association told IANS that the move will hugely save energy, slash electricity consumption and help the dealers to better use their manpower. "But we have been seeing a decline in sales on Sundays by upto 40 per cent", he said. A complete 24 hour holiday is declared to Petroleum filling stations in these 8 states.
He said there were around 4,850 outlets selling petrol and diesel in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry alone. "All these days we have been paying workers double wages", he said.
He added that petrol pumps in the seven states and Puducherry will work from May 15 only on single shift - 9 a.m.to 6 p.m.
Similarly, on an average, 5,000 litres of petrol/diesel was sold a day in one fuel outlet. This has become unaffordable due to the low operating margins, he said. "We will announce our decision soon", he said.