The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has clarified that there is no proposal under consideration of the Government to allow sale of petroleum products from the retail outlets only during certain hours.
The Ministry has denied the media reports in this regard which had stated that Petrol Pumps may be ordered to shut operations between 8.00pm and 8.00am.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram have rejected the idea of a fuel curfew even as under pressure Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily said the idea had come from people only.
Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram said: "It's not a government suggestion but one which had come from the public as the Oil Minister has himself clarified. Should the government close itself to the public's suggestions?"
Pertinently, Chidambaram on Monday met the PM on the issue here.
Moily himself backtracked under pressure and said the suggestion had come from the people.
The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also dismissed the idea.
BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said a move like this (fuel curfew) will only further worsen the economic situation.
"Why is the government making such suggestions? This will only worsen the situation," Sinha said, rejecting the idea.
Communist Party of India (CPI) MP Gurdas Dasgupta called the idea of an oil curfew as preposterous and dangerous.
"The government should bring oil from Iran," he said.
"This is madness," said Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Sudhanshu Sekhar Roy.
Moily on Sunday said the Indian government is considering shutting down petrol pumps overnight from 8 pm to 8 am to check fuel demand and bring down the import bill to support the weak rupee.
"There are various austerity ideas that have been floated. Shutting petrol pumps during the night is one of them. But we have not decided. It is just a proposal," Moily was quoted as saying.
"We need to reduce consumption and bring down our imports. Otherwise petrol prices will keep going up and rupee will keep falling," Moily told NDTV.
As the rupee continues to trade at unprecedented low levels, the Indian government is under pressure to cut down fuel bill that stood at USD 144.2 billion last year.
Moily said he has also written to the Prime Minister and Chidambaram seeking a sharper fuel price hike as the state-run oil companies grapple with losses that at current rates will mount to Rs. 1.8 lakh crores.
--IBNS (Posted on 02-09-2013)