A double whammy for people in Chennai. First they were hit by the steepest hike of petrol in a decade; and now they are greeted by 'No Stock' boards at almost all outlets in the city.
The ones affected the most are two wheeler motorists and auto rickshaw drivers who usually do not tank up but fill small quantities regularly. On the day of the announcement of the hike last Wednesday, many bunks ran out of stock of diesel. By the end of last week, a good number of bunks were selling only premium petrol at eighty rupees a litre, effectively taking the hike to over eleven rupees, temporarily. Petrol pump owners, speaking to NDTV on condition of anonymity, deny charges of hoarding and plead helplessness due to "lack of supplies from the companies."
The reason for the pumps drying up over the last 48 hours is being attributed to "no supplies from oil companies." When contacted, the Indian Oil Corporation Public Relations Officer Vetri Selvam told NDTV that he will "issue a statement shortly after discussing with the Executive Director."
NDTV witnessed a mad scramble at a pump on the arterial Radhakrishnan Road in South Chennai as soon as a petrol tanker arrived. The sight was reminiscent of scenes in the nineties during the city's acute water scarcity, when people would queue up behind water tankers with pots and buckets! The bunk owners here instructed motorists to park their vehicles on the road, leading to a traffic jam, and come in only with 1 or 2 litre bottles. Sources say the rationing is likely to continue for a few more hours. A "disappointed and angry" customer told NDTV that he had to walk to the bunk in search of petrol after parking his vehicle "quite a distance away".
The AIADMK is slated to stage a demonstration against the hike across Tamil Nadu tomorrow and the DMK will hold its protest on Wednesday. Meanwhile, it's not the hike but the scarcity of petrol that has left people in Chennai worried.
Sources have told NDTV that the "shortage may continue for another two or three days and is due to reduced supply of Euro 4 grade fuel. Two Euro 4 grade tanker ships are expected to arrive at the Madras Refinery tomorrow. There has also been an unplanned shut down of MRPL & CPCL refineries in April for almost a month and over a week respectively."