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Rumours of fuel shortage trigger panic buying across J&K

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J&K Bank’s technical hiccup hampers online transactions by filling station owners

By: Farhat Naik/Kunal Shrivatsa

Srinagar/Jammu: It was chaos all over as people made bee-lines at the filling stations in Srinagar on Thursday following rumours about the shortage of fuel.

Though situation in Jammu city was not that panicky, it was identical in Kishtwar, Ramban, Rajouri and Poonch.

Giving credence to the rumours, a few filling stations ran dry in the morning thus panicking the people further.

“I visited two filling stations around 10.30 in the morning and was told that they don’t have the fuel,” said a forest officer.

As the rumours spread regarding the shortage of fuel, people rushed to filling stations and long queues of every sort of vehicles were seen at almost all filling stations of Srinagar.

“People were not only getting the tanks of their vehicles filled, they were buying some extra litres of petrol/diesel in canisters, they were carrying with them,” said a photo journalist.

The unprecedented rush on filling stations resulted into traffic jams all over the city troubling the commuters.

It may be mentioned here that several filling stations in many parts of the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir continue to face a severe fuel crisis for the seventh consecutive day today.

Hundreds of vehicles were lined up at almost every fuel station, waiting for their turn to be refilled, leading to traffic jams in some parts of the city and elsewhere in the Valley as well.

Police and traffic police officials had a tough time regulating the movement of vehicles at some fuel stations where some motorists turned unruly while waiting for their turn.

A police official said there were some minor altercations and the issues were resolved amicably.

The rush for refilling the cars and vehicles began after rumours started circulating on social media that the country is facing shortage of fuel.

A senior marketing official at the Indian Oil Corporation Limited took to Twitter to allay the fears of people, but to no avail.

“Dear esteemed customers, we reiterate that there is sufficient product availability and supplies to retail outlets are being met in line with demand. Request not to panic at all. We reassure our full commitment to serve you at all times without interruption,” Director Marketing of the IOCL tweeted.

The fuel supply remained by and large satisfactory in Jammu city but the scenario was grim in interior pockets of Jammu region.

The petrol pumps controlled by Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) functioned normally in Jammu city and other areas of the province.

However, the petrol pumps of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) continued to face shortage of supply in most parts particularly the rural as well as semi-urban pockets of the region with an exception of Jammu city where only 2-3 petrol pumps of the company experienced the ongoing fuel crisis.

Sources informed that the HPCL petrol pumps in Kishtwar, Ramban, Rajouri, Poonch and Billawar are still not getting the entire quota of fuel supply due to which most of the filling stations have either gone dry or are operating with lesser fuel stock.

The three oil companies Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) are currently getting petrol at Rs 113.50 per litre. Similarly, they are receiving diesel from the government at around Rs 100 per litre. Petrol pumps have to sell the petrol for Rs 97.50 and diesel for Rs 83.26 as per the instructions of the government. In this way the companies are losing Rs 16 on per litre.

Moreover, industries, factories, dams, contractors who used to take diesel and petrol directly from oil companies, have started buying directly from petrol pumps which further deepened the crisis and led to the shortage of supply to the petrol pumps in several parts of Kashmir and Jammu regions.

Speaking to Kashmir Images, the president of All J&K Petroleum Dealers’ Association, Anan Sharma said the IOC and BPCL petrol pumps are functioning normally in almost all parts of the Union Territory.

Sharma said it is the HPCL petrol pumps in parts of Kashmir and Jammu which are experiencing problems of drying up or having lesser stock, adding that the fuel crisis in the Valley can also be attributed to the J&K Bank’s system collapse due to which online transactions are not getting through.

“We are receiving phone calls from the petrol pump owners from Kishtwar, Poonch, Billawar and other areas that their supplies are being rationed by the HPCL. HPCL Petrol Pumps in these far-flung areas are not getting sufficient supply. The owners in these areas are being issued permits of 5000 litres instead of their quota of 10000 litres leading to the drying of petrol pumps,” said Anan Sharma.

“In Kashmir the situation is much more serious in nature as the supplies are not reaching there mainly due to the curtailment in fuel supply while the J&K Bank’s technical hiccup is also a factor as the petrol pump owners are unable to make online transactions,” he added.

Photo-Javed Khan /Kashmir Images

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