Petrol pumps may soon sell drugs, groceries, IT services

The government is working on opening 'Jan Aushadhi' (generic medicines) stores at petrol pumps run by the three state-owned fuel retailers across the country to make cheap drugs more easily available to the public, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Wednesday.

"Oil marketing companies are bringing an ecosystem of non-fuel retail business at petrol pumps through tie-ups. The Jan Aushadhi stores under the department of pharmaceuticals in the chemicals and fertilizers ministry will also be opened at the outlets in the future," Pradhan said after the fuel retailers inked MoU with Energy Efficiency Services Ltd for selling energy-efficient appliances and LED bulbs from petrol pumps.

Apart from drugs, the government is considering enhancing the revenue base of the oil retailers by allowing them to sell groceries and other products at petrol pumps. Pradhan said information technology (IT) service centres could also be set up at petrol pumps.

"Our three OMCs are experts in the retail energy business ... we are trying that pharmacy wings of the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers and IT ministry's common service centres should also be opened at our petrol pumps," Pradhan said after the MoU signing in New Delhi.

"OMCs retail outlets should become convenience centres where daily essential products and services are made available to the public at large, so that non-fuel retail business could be grown," he said.

The minister disclosed that around 55,000 retail energy outlets of the OMCs attract around 35 million footfalls per day.

The fuel outlets already offer a bouquet of allied services like ATMs, service stations, convenience stores and PUC (pollution under control) facilities across the urban, highway and rural markets.

The three public sector oil marketing companies have a network of over 54,500 petroleum retail outlets in the country.

The MoU envisages the three OMCs - Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) - taking up distribution of LED bulbs, LED tubelights and energy-efficient fans.

As per the roll-out plan, the distribution of energy-efficient appliances will be conducted in phases across select outlets. In the first phase, the distribution will commence in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

More outlets will commence the distribution of energy efficient appliances soon after this, minister for power, coal, new and renewable energy and mines Piyush Goyal said at the event.

"The marketing network of the three oil marketing companies is unparalleled and this tie-up will only accelerate and scale up the distribution of energy efficient appliances across the length and breadth of the country," Goyal said.

Pradhan said the IT ministry's 'Common Service Centre' concept is also being explored to offer government services such as issuing PAN and e-Aadhaar cards, utility bill payments, banking solutions and agro services at the pumps.