| People wait for petrol after some pumps open in Imphal on Wednesday. Picture by Eastern Projections |
Imphal, Aug. 11: Every time his scooter’s fuel indicator touched “E” (meaning empty) in the past two months, Th. Shyamo Singh dreaded the astronomical sum he would have to shell out for a litre of petrol.
With the government today decontrolling sale of fuel for the first time since April, Shyamo Singh stood behind a serpentine queue in Imphal, relieved that a litre of petrol would no longer cost him Rs 150.
The fuel business in Manipur revved up today, with all petrol pumps opening their doors after an improvement in the stock position in Imphal’s Indian Oil Corporation depot.
Disruption of fuel supply following the economic blockade imposed by the All Naga Students Association, Manipur on Imphal-Dimapur and Imphal-Jiribam highways from April 11 prompted the government to take control of sale of petrol from April 26.
Under the new arrangement, the consumer affairs, food and public distribution department would select petrol pumps which were allowed to open twice a week and sell five litres of petrol to two-wheelers and 10 litres to four-wheelers.
“It is a great relief for everybody. I had been buying petrol from the blackmarket for Rs 80 to Rs 100 per litre for going to office. There was a time when I bought a litre of petrol for Rs 150. For days I failed to attend office because of non-availability of petrol for my scooter,” Shyamo Singh, a government employee, said.
The under secretary of consumer affairs, food and public distribution, N. Pratap Singh, said the government revoked the system of rationing after the stock position improved.
The present stock of petrol will last for 13 days and diesel for 11 days.
The Okram Ibobi Singh government had requisitioned tankers and trucks and began sending them through Imphal-Dimapur highway with security escorts from August 4 after truckers refused to ply along the road complaining of unchecked extortion by militant groups.
The Union home ministry provided CRPF security convoy for the tankers.
The consumer affairs, food and public distribution minister, Yumkham Erabot Singh, confirmed that supplies started coming in regularly with the security escorts despite the ongoing economic blockade imposed by the United Naga Council on Imphal-Dimapur and Imphal-Jiribam highways for 20 days from August 4.
Uncertainty, however, prevails.
“You can’t say what will happen and when. So the best thing is to keep enough stock at home while the free sale is on. There is a blockade and another blockade may follow after the present one ends,” Moirangthem Nabakumar, an auto-rickshaw driver, said.