Ministry slams move by fuel pump owners to shut on Sundays

The petroleum ministry has denounced the decision of a section of fuel pump operators, mostly in southern and central India, to keep outlets shut on Sundays, saying the move will inconvenience the general public.

The ministry took umbrage at the Consortium of Indian Petroleum Dealers using Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal to not using fuel for a day to help cut India's import dependence, saying it did not imply that petrol pump owners should remain shut.

The All India Petroleum Dealers Association, which claims to represent 80 per cent of the 53,224 fuel pumps of public sector oil firms, has said it is not participating in the closure.

The states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, parts of Karnataka - mostly around Bengaluru - and some areas of Maharashtra, including Mumbai, may see petrol pump owners down their shutters on Sundays beginning 14 May to press for higher commission on petrol and diesel (See:  Petrol pumps in 7 states and Puducherry to shut on Sundays from 14 May). 

Such closure "by a small section of dealers will lead to inconvenience for the general public", the ministry said on Twitter.

The tweets, which were retweeted by petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, also stated that major dealer associations are not participating in the closure.

"Major dealers' federations have clarified that they don't endorse any closure of petrol pumps on any day," a ministry tweet said.

On the issue of Modi's slogan, the ministry said, "The Prime Minister in #MannKiBaat appealed to People of India not to use fuel once a week and not to dealers to close their pumps on Sundays."

All India Petroleum Dealers Association president Ajay Bansal said that the association, which has nearly 46,000 petrol pump owners as members, is not participating in the closure.

"Our members in 22 states are not going on any protests," he clarified, adding that the association has called a meeting of the general body in the next few weeks to discuss the agreement PSU oil companies had signed with it in November last year to consider their demand for raising margins on fuel sales.