Two mn litres of fuel to be available in Tamil Nadu (Lead)

July 1st, 2008 - 8:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, July 1 (IANS) Two million litres of fuel will be supplied across Tamil Nadu to overcome the acute shortage of petrol and diesel in the state, a government official said Tuesday. The government said it was reviewing the shortage with the oil companies.

Chief secretary L.K. Tripathy said two million litres of petrol and diesel would soon be available through oil stations in the state.

The government Tuesday summoned the marketing chiefs of the three state-owned oil companies - Indian Oil Corp, Bharat petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum - to ascertain the reason behind the sudden fuel shortage.

Tripathy asked the oil companies to “streamline supplies at the earliest”.

He also told them and associations of fuel stations that penal action would be taken if the “artificial shortage was not stopped immediately”.

Alongside, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi asked Petroleum Minister Murli Deora to ensure oil companies kept the petrol bunks in Tamil Nadu well stocked.

Karunanidhi also warned hoarders of stringent action.

A senior oil company official said earlier in the day the shortage would ease and supplies become normal by Tuesday evening as oil tankers would be arriving at the Chennai port shortly.

Indian Oil’s coordinator and executive director in Tamil Nadu, V.K. Jayachandran, said tankers owned by Bharat Petroleum were on their way. “Supplies would improve significantly in Chennai and its suburbs by Tuesday,” he said.

Fuel vending stations virtually ran dry Monday night, mainly on account of delivery delays by BPCL. Most stations witnessed serpentine queues of vehicles late into the night.

Petrol sold at Rs.100 a litre in the black market Monday, and diesel went for over Rs.60 - and only to those who came with jerry cans, consumers told IANS.

Radio stations broadcast news about availability of fuel in various parts of the city Tuesday, but fears of a scarcity persisted.

Several people told IANS of colleagues applying for leave citing non-availability of fuel. Vegetable prices went up Monday by almost 80 percent.

Meanwhile, the Madras High Court has stepped into the picture, entertaining a public interest plea seeking government direction to oil companies to “ensure supply of ordinary petrol and diesel through retail dealers”, instead of selling only branded fuel.

Fifty-one lawyers had petitioned the court June 24 to direct the central government to ensure oil companies “supply ordinary petrol and diesel to the dealers, instead of selling the same under various brand names for higher price”.

They further alleged petrol pump owners here sold only branded products “in connivance with the authorities”.

Entertaining their petition, Chief Justice A.K. Ganguly and Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kallifulah Monday served a notice to the central government.

The next hearing is scheduled for July 4.

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