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Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

Consumers across India were burdened following the unabated hike in fuel prices. While, the recent excise duty cut came as a breather for all, fuel shortage continues to take a toll on consumers in some rural places of Odisha. 

As per reports, there are two fuel filling pumps in Sorada of Ganjam. However, both have been shut down. Of the two stations, Hindustan Petroleum's fuel filling station was forced to close as it failed to produce required documents while the second station run by Essar was forced to shut down as the station didn't get fuel supply.

Cashing in on the situation, the retail sellers are bringing fuel from Aska and Bhanjanagar and selling it at a higher price. 

Similar is the situation in Nabarangpur. Consumers are reeling from the crisis of diesel supply. Though 41 fuel filling stations across the district are running, they are dispensing only petrol. Diesel is being sold only at 2-3 stations.  

"We have two petrol pumps in our area, but they have been closed since the last 10 days. We are forced to fill, paying exorbitant prices while compromising the quantity,” said Rabi Narayan Muni, a consumer. 

"We are forced to purchase diesel in black at a higher price as almost all fuel pumps are not having diesel. We are facing lots of troubles due to such shortage," said Pankaj Nag, an auto-rickshaw driver of Nabarangpur.  

"Almost all petrol pumps are running out of diesel. We are making the payments to the petroleum companies as required, however, the vehicles are not being dispensed," said P Rajesh, a fuel filling station owner in Nabarangpur.

This is not the scenario only in Ganjam or Nabrangpur. There are many rural areas across the state that are facing an acute shortage of fuel. There are over 2000 fuel filling stations across Odisha and of the total, such acute shortage of fuel is witnessed in over 400-500 stations located in rural areas. 

The petroleum companies in India haven't hiked the fuel price since April 6, however, the price of crude oil has surged to $120 in the international market. Due to this, the petroleum companies are bearing a loss of Rs 12-15 per litre of petrol and Rs 18 in per litre of diesel. 
The petroleum companies are unable to provide fuel at the price of national oil companies for which they are providing less quantity to the dealers. Even several dealers are unable to procure fuel as certain companies have laid conditions of advance payments. 

Similarly, the national oil companies have hiked the price of diesel per litre by Rs 28 for industrial sectors. For such reasons, the dependence of industrial sectors has increased on the retail dealers to fulfil their diesel requirements. 

Demanding immediate resolution of such an acute shortage of fuel, the Utkal Petroleum Dealers Association has sought the intervention of the Central and State governments. 

"The oil companies are not increasing the fuel price even if those are bearing losses. It is quite confusing why the companies are not increasing the price. Not supplying fuel to the filling stations on this ground is not a solution. It is the responsibility of the three National oil companies to ensure proper supply of fuel to consumers," said Sanjay Lath, General Secretary, Utkal Petroleum Dealer Association.

Meanwhile, to tackle the fuel crisis, Petroleum Ministry has warned the oil companies to ensure an adequate supply of fuel to filling stations in rural areas including the private filling stations, bringing the filling stations in remote areas under universal service obligation (USO). Failing to meet the requirements, the ministry has warned to cancel the license of the dealers.

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