MUMBAI: On the first day of the nationwide lockout, some Mumbai residents were denied fuel at outlets, citing that they are selling only to emergency and essential services.

Petrol pump owners confirmed to ET that the government officials had directed retail outlets only to sell to emergency and essential services, and to government officials upon checking their identity cards.

“We have seen a 90% decline in sale, and there is an acute shortage of staff. We have been asking the government to allow us to operate a smaller number of petrol pumps for a shorter duration but they have not responded to our request. While there is no government directive, local authorities have been visiting petrol pumps and asking staff not to sell to non-essential services. How can we do that without an official order and without enough manpower,” M Venkat Rao, president of Petrol Dealers Association

Some petrol pump owners told ET that the Company Owned-Company Operated (COCO) outlets are selling only to emergency and essential services.

“We are following directions from district authorities. We have been told to supply petrol and diesel only to essential and emergency services and we are doing that,” a spokesperson from BPCL told ET.

HPCL told ET, “HPCL has not put any restrictions on fuelling any vehicle which is coming to its petrol pumps . If at all, restrictions have been experienced at some places, the same has been done as per the advice of the local administration. We believe , local administration is putting the restrictions with a purpose and for a larger cause and it is everyone’s duty to cooperate. There is no shortage of the products and we appeal to the people not do resort to any panic buying.”

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ET’s query to the Indian Oil Corporation remained unanswered.

“Petrol pumps have been told not to sell to private citizens and the COCOs in Mumbai are adhering to it. We are already short staffed and don’t have staff to check IDs. An we don’t have police protection to deal with unhappy customers if we deny them the fuel,” said Ravi Shinde, owner of a Tilak Nagar-based petrol pump and former president of Petrol Dealers Association.

At least three citizens told ET that they were denied fuel at retail outlets after the staff checked their IDs.

“How are we to fend for ourselves if we can not re-fuel our car? Two petrol pumps in Chembur denied us fuel despite us telling them that we only wanted to go buy essential groceries. They were only allowing government officials after checking their ID,” said city-based lawyer Ashish Pyasi, who went to buy fuel with wife Apoorvee Pyasi.

The Petrol Dealers Association of Mumbai has sought permission from the government to sell fuel from few nominated locations, which will help them to manage the business, address the need of people and yet comply with PM Narendra Modi’s call for ‘social distancing.’



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