Oil ministry red-flags 'Sunday Closed' move of petrol pump operators

The threat by petroleum dealers to shut down pumps on Sundays will be dealt with according to measures necessary to maintain supplies of essential commodities, the Centre said on Wednesday.

The oil ministry has denounced the decision of some petrol pump operators to keep outlets closed on Sundays, saying such a move will be of inconvenience to the public.

In Mumbai, the President of the Federation of All Maharashtra Petrol Dealers Association, Udah Lodh, said the move was in support of various demands with the oil marketing companies and other long-pending issues. "We are within our right to declare Sunday a holiday. While exact figures are not available on fuel sales on Sundays, it is around 20 per cent less than what is sold on weekdays", Murali said, adding that the Sunday-holiday decision would save around 20 per cent fuel used in the country. "All these days we have been functioning paying workers double wages". Murali said there were around 4,850 outlets selling petrol and diesel in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry alone. A total of around 20,000 fuel pump outlets in the said eight states will be shut down for twenty-four hours on Sundays, post May 14.

He believes the move will benefit the country with huge saving of energy, cut down on electricity consumption and help the dealers use manpower properly. It represents 80 per cent of the 53,224 petrol pumps of public sector oil firms.

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The largest body of motor fuel dealers, All India Petroleum Dealers Association, however, is not planning any suck closure but will meett on May 15 to decide on the further course of action.

M. Radhakrishnan, secretary of Kerala State Federation of Petroleum Traders, said the decision has been conveyed to members and it was a mixed reaction.

However, former president of the traders, Alex Valakallil, said the idea of closing down every Sunday is not feasible.