Former Vice-Chairman of National Disaster Management Authority, M Shashidhar Reddy on Saturday called for urgent steps to ensure that the use of digital payment platforms is avoided while fuelling vehicles at petroleum retail outlets all over the country for public safety. In a letter to Cabinet Secretary, Pradeep Kumar Sinha, he noted the push towards cashless transactions and the “exponential” growth in the use in PoS units/mobile e-wallets at such outlets post-demonetisation.
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Reddy referred to the December 19 letter from the Chief Controller of Explosives, Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), which made it clear that their use should be avoided while fuelling vehicles. PESO, however, clarified that it has no objection for their use beyond the hazardous area around the petroleum dispenser in retail outlets.
“It calls for prominently marking the hazardous area (Zone I) around the dispenser. As a person with experience in disaster management, I think this calls for urgent steps to ensure that these conditions are meticulously followed – as a preventive and preparedness measure. This will also call for appropriate public awareness as a part of this”, he said.
Reddy requested Sinha to immediately direct Petroleum and Natural Gas Secretary and Chief Secretaries of all States to take all necessary steps to comply with the advisory from PESO in a time-bound manner. “This is extremely important from the point of view of public safety consequent to their being pushed to the use of digital payment platforms post-demonetisation”.
He also mentioned about a consumer, his former NDMA colleague Prof Vinod Menon who had been charged additional two per cent after purchase of Rs 1000 from a Delhi petrol station by his credit card. Another person from Hyderabad was subjected to an additional charge of 7.5 per cent on a purchase of Rs 200 only.
“This is besides the charges that are collected from individual dealers. This kind of a penalty being levied by banks should be taken serious note. The consumers should not be subjected to this additional burden”, Reddy said, requesting the Cabinet Secretary to direct the concerned Finance Ministry officials to take stock of things and come out with a clear decision that would stop this kind of penalisation of millions of consumers in the country.