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Ground rules for new petrol pumps

New Delhi, Feb. 21: New oil retailers like Reliance and ONGC won’t like this: new petrol pumps situated within a 1 km of each other on national highways will have to provide a 70-metre service road to enter their premises and a 100-metre exit road that leads back to the highway.

The decision, which was taken today at a meeting between petroleum minister Ram Naik and highways minister Maj Gen (Retd) B. C. Khanduri, will raise land acquisition costs for the new entrants in this field, especially Reliance which has approvals to establish over 5,000 petrol pumps in the country.

The two ministers also decided that no petrol pump will be allowed to come up within 300 metres of any highway intersection as it will pose a traffic hazard.

The 70-metre service road leading to the filling station will help vehicles to decelerate once they get off the highway and the 100-metre exit stretch will allow vehicles to accelerate before they enter the highway again. This will help avoid accidents and traffic bottlenecks.

Khanduri had initially proposed that the entry road to the filling stations should be 120 metres while the exit road should be 180 metres. The oil firms were of the view that these stretches were too long and would cause land acquisition problems. Today’s meeting succeeded in narrowing down the differences and reaching a consensus.

However, it has still not been decided who will construct the roads — the oil companies or National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). The two ministers have asked the officials of their ministries to arrive at an agreement within the next 15 days.

The oil companies are reported to have taken the stand that NHAI is already getting a Re 1 per litre cess on petrol and diesel and the oil sector should not be burdened with a fresh impost.

According to the oil firms these roads will cost around Rs 50 to 60 lakh and another Rs 2 to 3 lakh would be required for their maintenance. NHAI, however, is of the view that Rs 10 to 15 lakh is enough to build these roads and the cash-rich oil companies can afford the expenditure.

It was also decided at the meeting that clearance for the filling stations would be given by the highways authorities within 30 days of fulfilling the formalities and a single-window system would be put in place.

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