Petrol pump strike on Tuesday, Kolkata to be hit more than districts – Telegraph India

Kolkata News

Many fuel pumps in Kolkata and neighbouring areas will remain shut for 24 hours from 6am on Tuesday for a “token protest” against oil companies, causing hardship to motorists.

The impact could be felt more in the city than the districts as 1,335 retailers of two oil companies, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), are likely to join the strike, in contrast to outlets of Indian Oil Corporation.

While IOC has more pumps than other companies combined in Bengal, BPCL and HPCL together outnumber it in Kolkata.

Indian Oil Dealers Forum will not join the strike on Tuesday, which means the majority of its 1,420-odd pumps, including those in Kolkata, will remain open.

The latest flashpoint between the oil firms and pump owners, on paper, is ethanol-blended petrol supplied by the companies.

The 24-hour strike call has been given by the West Bengal Petroleum Dealers’ Association demanding ethanol-free petrol during the monsoon months of June, July and August.

Ethanol, a bio-fuel obtained from sugarcane, is an eco-friendly import substitute product, promoted by the government of India.

Since around 85 per cent of petroleum demand in India is met by import, mixing ethanol translates to saving in foreign exchange, apart from cutting down on greenhouse gas emission.

However, the protesting pump owners are alleging that ethanol-blended petrol (EBP) attracts more moisture than ethanol-free fuel. Since the moisture content in the air is higher in the monsoon than in other seasons, the intrusion is heavier than usual.

Moisture and water in EBP trigger technical glitches in vehicles, because of which the owners accuse fuel pumps of “adulteration”, they alleged.

Snehasish Bhaumik, the vice-president of the petroleum dealers’ association, said the pumps would go in for a “no purchase, no sale” protest on Tuesday.