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A nightmare on all streets

A doctor with a heart patient and an ambulance with a drying tank broke the queue at a petrol pump at Moledina Road on Friday afternoon,approached a dealer and burst into tears.

Written by Tarun Nangia | Pune |
January 10, 2009 2:18:59 am

Before the oil strike ended : Long queues outside petrol pumps,traffic jams,panic stories across city

A doctor with a heart patient and an ambulance with a drying tank broke the queue at a petrol pump at Moledina Road on Friday afternoon,approached a dealer and burst into tears.

“He requested me to provide fuel. He said the patient’s life was in such danger that there was not enough time for him to wait in queue,” said Ali Daruwalla of the Pune Petrol Dealers’ Association’s managing committee.

Several such nightmares unfolded in the city all day,continuing till the strike in the oil sector was called off in the evening,and possibly even later.

Panic reigned at petrol pumps with fuel available only in a few,even though oil marketing companies claimed that 300 tankers had supplied enough to meet almost 90 per cent of the city’s requirements.

The queue broken by the doctor was a common sight at pumps. So serpentine were the queues at Senapati Bapat Road and Moledina Road that hundreds of vehicles spilled on to the main roads,leading to traffic jams.

Minor scuffles frequently broke out and heavy police security was deployed.

“I have been standing in the queue for more than an hour but I am nowhere near the middle of the queue,” Suresh Pawar said at Senapati Bapat Road around 12.30 pm.

“I waited in queue for close to an hour and then was told they had run out of fuel. Luckily my brother had managed to refuel his vehicle so I have been using his bike since Thursday,” said K Assay,a software engineer.

The kitchen too suffered. Charudutt Bahirat said,“I had gone to book an LPG cylinder for this month day before yesterday. I was told that the waiting period had been increased due to the strike.”

Daruwala said the supply was way short. “Only 150 tankers were dispatched from the Loni terminal this morning against a requirement of 350. Even after the strike is called off,it would take time for supply to return to normal,” he said.

The state-owned Oil Marketing Companies said the tankers supplied were enough to meet much of the demand. “In the morning shift around 150 tankers were sent from the Loni terminal of HPCL. In the evening we expect to supply a similar quantity. This would be enough to meet around 80-90 per cent of the general requirement. Also,supply increased in the afternoon when BPCL employees called off the strike,” said Nilesh Jagtap,district coordinator of Oil Marketing Companies.

Jagtap said the demand for diesel is down with the transporters’ strike entering a fifth day. “Because of that strike,diesel supply to the city areas could be bolstered. There was no hoarding this time as there are indications that fuel prices might go down. By Saturday afternoon supply will be normal,we hope.”

Nightmare Part II
The transport strike may have brought down the diesel demand but it brought about another nightmare. Supply of vegetables and grains into the city thinned away.

“Stocks are not arriving and vegetables are becoming increasingly expensive. Plus,we have to deal with the fuel shortage,” said Dinesh Rajpurohit of Rajashri Food and General Stores in Koregaon Park.

“Vegetables arrived late today. They are delivered in the morning and again in the evening,but today they came in only one batch in the evening,” said an employee of MORE Retail Outlet on Bund Garden Road.

Meeta Kapil of Khadki said it was becoming increasingly difficult to find fresh vegetables.

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