Chennai: Petrol bunk dealers in seven states and Puducherry have decided to down their shutters on Sundays from May 14 in a bid to save fuel and foreign exchange, it was announced on Tuesday.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged people to follow traffic rules and also save petrol and diesel. So we have decided to declare a holiday on Sundays as it will save fuel and foreign exchange," K.P. Murali, President of the Tamil Nadu Petroleum Dealers Association, told IANS.
Murali said petrol bunks in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Haryana and Maharashtra as well as Puducherry will down their shutters on Sundays starting from May 14.
He said there were around 4,850 outlets selling petrol and diesel in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry alone.
"On an average the per day sales of fuel is for around Rs 153 crore. While exact figures are not available on fuel sales on Sundays, it will be around 20 per cent less than what is sold on weekdays," Murali said.
He said the Sunday-holiday decision will save around 20 per cent fuel burned in the country.
According to him, in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, there were 250-300 outlets owned by oil marketing companies which are not members of the association.
"We are within our right to declare Sunday a holiday. All these days we have been functioning paying workers double wages," he said.
He said all the outlets will have one staffer on Sundays who will supply fuel in an emergency.
Murali said the petrol bunks accepted the demonetised 500 and 1,000 rupee notes at the request of the government. "Now we have decided to play a role in saving fuel and foreign exchange."
In Mumbai, the President of the Federation of All Maharashtra Petrol Dealers Association, Udah Lodh, said the move was in support of various demands with the oil marketing companies and other long-pending issues.
From May 15, he said, the petrol pumps in the seven states and Puducherry will work only on a single day shift -- 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"We are currently operating on extremely low margins, selling high-tech unleaded petrol-diesel products in which the evaporation rate is very high, resulting in huge losses," Lodh told IANS.
Additionally, there were areas of concern like a certain amount of minimum salary to be paid to the staffers at each petrol pumps. This has become unaffordable due to the low operating margins, he said.
Lodh said the move would affect around 4,500 petrol pumps in Maharashtra alone, including 225 in Mumbai, where some 100,000 staffers work, mostly in two shifts and some in three shifts.
A weekly holiday plus working on a single shift on other days will help the petrol pumps to drastically reduce their running expenditure, he added.