Fuel stations reopen, but normalcy after a week

January 10th, 2009 - 2:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 10 (IANS) Hundreds of petrol and diesel stations reopened in major Indian cities Saturday, after a nationwide strike in oil companies ended overnight, but an official said that it would take a week for “everything to normalise all over the country”.Most of the Indian capital’s 413 fuel stations were functional again by noon after receiving fresh stock from oil companies, and the city would be back to normal by evening, the Federation of All India Petroleum Traders said.

This was also true for all metropolitan cities, Federation president Ashok Badhawar told IANS.

Badhawar said it would take up to a week for the fuel situation to normalise all over India, which has 38,650 pumps owned by major state-run oil companies selling petrol and diesel.

Some 45,000 officers from the major oil firms started an indefinite strike Wednesday in support of higher salaries. The protest almost crippled road traffic in many cities, partly because of panic buying, besides shutting down refineries.

“Oil companies always store 20 days of stock, so major cities would get fresh supplies immediately,” Badhawar said. “However it would take about a week for everything to normalise all over the country.”

The rush on fuel stations in New Delhi and elsewhere Saturday was not much since it is a holiday for all government as well as many other offices and educational institutions.

The end of the strike was immediately felt in the Indian capital and other major cities as vehicles returned to roads in large numbers after two days of sparse traffic.

Sarita Dey, a resident of Chittaranjan Park in south Delhi, said she was relieved to see a “normal state of affairs” at fuel stations.

“Yesterday was a nightmare. I had to wait for more than an hour to refuel my car. And what do I get at the end of it? Petrol worth Rs.500! Thankfully things have become smoother today,” Dey told IANS.

The strike involving a dozen public sector oil firms was called off late Friday evening after the government warned that the strikers would be sacked and arrested if they did not resume work.

Samir Khan, another Delhi resident, said it was a relief to see vehicles moving in and out of fuel stations without much delay.

“After the last two days’ experience of getting stuck in jams because of the queues outside petrol pumps, today was a huge relief,” Khan said.

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