New Delhi, April 21: Major petrol pump operators, mostly in South India, have denounced their participation to keep petrol pumps closed on Sundays. The government slammed a section of petroleum pump association saying that such closure of petrol pumps by a small section of dealers will lead to inconvenience to general public. The Petroleum Ministry in a series of tweets said, “Major dealer’s federations have clarified that they don’t endorse any closure of petrol pumps on any day”.

On the issue of the Prime Ministers call on saving fuel, the Ministry tweeted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his radio address ‘Mann Ki Baat’ had appealed not to use fuel once a week and not to dealers to close their pumps on Sundays. “Hon PM in #MannKiBaat appealed to People of India not to use fuel once a week & not to dealers to close their pumps on Sundays”, the Petroleum Ministry tweet said. These tweets were, however, retweeted by Union Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

The clarification of Prime Minister’s appeal for saving fuel comes after the Consortium of Indian Petroleum Dealers claimed that they are planning to keep petrol pump shut on Sundays after Prime Minister’s appeal of not using fuel for a day and claimed that this move would conserve fuel.

It was the decision of the Consortium of Indian Petroleum Dealers (CIPD) to shut the petrol pumps on Sundays as the government had not fulfilled their demands. The protest was to begin from May 14 and was likely to affect Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra, especially Mumbai. This decision came up to press for higher commission on petrol and diesel they sell. All India Petroleum Dealers Association that claim to represent 80 percent of the 53,224 petrol pumps of public sector oil firms, has said it is not participating in the closure exercise, PTI reported.

The decision to shut petrol pumps was seen as a measure to put pressure on the government to meet the dealers’ demands for higher rates of commission. About 50% of a dealer’s commission is consumed in paying the compensation, in the form of salary, to the people working at the petrol pump which excludes the mandatory pension, health and other benefits that employees are given.

Meanwhile, Ajay Bansal who is the President of All India Petroleum Dealers said 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 fuel margins. He said the association which has nearly 46,000 petrol pump owners as members, are not participating in the closure. “Our members in 22 states are not going on any protests,” he was quoted by PTI.

On April 20, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that India will augment its refining capacity to 600 million metric tonnes from the present 230 million metric tones to meet the growing demand. While addressing the inaugural session of 21st Refinery Technology Meet, Pradhan also stated that India not only will increase its production for domestic consumption but also meet the requirement of neighbours Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.