PETROL dealers across the state threatened to stop purchasing fuel from next week if the state government does not relax restrictions under the ‘no helmet, no fuel’ rule that has been launched to improve road safety.
The rule allows legal action to be taken against petrol dealers if they offer petrol to two-wheeler riders and pillion riders not wearing helmets.
Last week, state Transport Minister Diwakar Raote had announced in legislative assembly that fuel must not be given by the dealers to two-wheeler riders if they approach petrol pumps without wearing helmets. It had not gone down well with petrol dealers who called this move “biased” and “impractical to implement”.
In a meeting held with more than 200 petrol dealers in Chembur Wednesday, Uday Lodh, president, Federation of All Maharashtra Petrol Dealers Association (FAMPEDA), said, “Though the motive is right to correct the wrong habits of bike riders, the onus of their deeds is being put on us. Our responsibility is to deliver fuel to any person who comes to the petrol pump and not to correct their action or even bear consequences for the same.”
Dealers also expressed disappointment over being considered ‘party to the crime’ if they let go any rider without the helmet and not intimate the police. “The GR calls us ‘helpers and abettors of conspiracy’ if we do not obey the rule mandated. With this, not only does our business get affected but even we, for no reason, get involved in the crime. We are not the authorities of security or implementation and thus why should we take care about this?” Lodh added.
About 15 days ago, officials of the Mumbai Police traffic department had suggested to various petrol dealers that they could sell helmets at their pumps if they find a bike rider without one. Also, after August 15, traffic policemen are to take strict action against riders found without helmets.
“We were ready to involve ourselves in promoting the use of helmets at our stations if a rider was coming without helmet to our stops.
Traffic officials had requested us then that we could sell helmets to riders after they had filled petrol at our stations. Also, the cops were going to be present at the stops to ensure the same. However, according to the GR announced a week back, the state government, instead of offering us safety, puts us into a difficult position. This is unfair,” Ravi Shinde, president, Petrol Dealers’ Association said.
The dealers have expressed fear of facing acts of violence from the riders if they refuse petrol to them. They have said they will wait for at least a week to see if a positive response is received from the state government, without which they will have to approach the court.
Transport analysts have also supported the cause of dealers in the state. “I will support the cause of the petrol dealers. As people who want to make business, the petrol dealers will obviously not want to get involved in the hassle. Also, I personally believe traffic officials must do their job and also concentrate on further issues like illegal parking and drunk driving and not make people like such dealer soft targets,” A V Shenoy, transport expert said.
There are at least 223 petrol centres in the city and more than 4,000 stations in the state.