Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sunday petrol pump closure not linked to fuel conservation

So, finally a decision has been taken to keep petrol pumps closed on Sundays in eight states from May 14. The States are Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Haryana.

So, I will have to ensure on Saturday that there is enough fuel in the tank. Just in case I have drive a long distance on Sunday.

But there seems to be some confusion about what has triggered this closure. Some have gone to the extent of blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for it.

There is a little background to this development.

Sunday holiday is related to demand for higher commission

There has been a demand for increasing the commission for dealers. In support of that, some fuel station owners had said that they would keep pumps closed on Sundays, since it wasn't viable to keep their staff working all seven days of a week in the absence of any increase in commission.

While this issue has been on, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his monthly radio address Mann Ki Baat, on March 29, said every national objective can't be achieved only by the government and citizens too have a role to play. In that context, he suggested people could consider abstaining from using petrol one day a week, in order to cut fuel consumption.

This is the relevant portion of what he said: (Paragraphs introduced to facilitate easier reading.)
When there is a talk of ‘New India’, its criticism, its analysis, it counter views, are but natural, and that is a fundamental of democracy. But it is true that if 125 crore countrymen resolve, and decide to walk step by step on a path to realise that resolve, the dream of ‘New India’ can be fulfilled in our lifetime.
And all these things are not necessarily achieved through the Budget, government projects, or government money. If every citizen resolves to obey traffic rules, if every citizen resolves that he will discharge his duties honestly, if every citizen resolves that he will not use petrol or diesel one day in a week – – these are not very big things. 
But these will contribute to the realisation of the dream of this country, this ‘New India’, that is being nurtured by 125 crore countrymen, and this realisation will be achieved before their eyes. In essence, every citizen must discharge his civic duties and responsibilities. This in itself would be a good beginning to the New India.

The link between decision on closure of petrol pumps on Sunday, and Modi's exhortation is only contextual. The thought of having a Sunday holiday actually existed before Modi spoke.

Modi's focus is cutting fuel consumption

The context in which Modi made the appeal too needs to be understood. He was suggesting a voluntary decision by car owners to take their cars only six days a week, in order to reduce fuel consumption. There is no point in filling the tank full on a Saturday and driving all day around the city on a Sunday.

The six-day week concept put forward by petroleum dealers was from their workers' point of view, while the PM's appeal was from fuel conservation point of view.

Not many seem to be seeing the difference.

Keeping pumps closed on Sundays might benefit the employees, but might not necessarily lead to drop in petrol consumption, which will happen only if people consciously and voluntarily reduce usage of their private vehicles, as the Prime Minister has suggested.

(Photo credit: The Hindu)


  1. Well explained, Pradeep. But this is just another instance of adding extra artificial glory where little is deserved; which has become a habit for some, i mean ... for many.

    1. Hi Swarnalatha, thanks. In you comment, by "this" did you mean "the practice of not taking the vehicle out to save fuel"?
      Usually, tokenism gets lots of publicity; and they don't yield much benefits.

  2. I was reading in the papers. But did not understand fully until I read your blog post. Thanks. As you said, people should consciously and voluntarily reduce usage of their private vehicles.

    1. Thanks, SG. Slowly the awareness is growing, but it needs to be much more.

  3. Yup, a lot is lost in transmission. Gap in The intention and the perception

    1. Thanks Sujatha, for dropping by.
      True, transmission is only but natural when there is so much of facts and views flying across multiple communication platforms. :-)