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Petrol sales cross pre-pandemic level in Bengal

Diesel sales – a barometer of wider economic activity – are still down 20%

Our Special Correspondent   |   Calcutta   |   Published 29.09.20, 02:36 AM

Monthly sale of petrol in Bengal has shown growth for the first time after lockdown in September, industry leader Indian Oil Corporation has said, as more people are commuting on two-wheelers.

The public sector oil marketing company, which has over 50 per cent share of the market in the state, sold 37,148 kilolitres (kl) of petrol as on Sunday (September 27) against 36,694kl in the same period last year, a growth of 1.2 per cent.

“As far as petrol is concerned, we have surpassed the pre-pandemic level,” Pritish Bharat, executive director and state head of IOC in Bengal, said. Sales of diesel, used by commercial vehicles and public transport — a barometer of wider economic activity —  continue to remain subdued. Diesel sales are still down 20 per cent.

Sales of aviation turbine fuel are  down because of the restrictions on domestic and international flights. IOC is selling just a quarter of what it used to in this year.

Industry sources pointed out that retail outlets in the city are more affected than those on the outskirts and the highways.

As many private buses remain off the road, taxis find it difficult to get passengers other than the rush hours in the morning and in the evening. Even the sale of auto LPG, used by auto rickshaws, are only 60-65 per cent of the pre-Covid level.

It is a different story for the highway pumps, where sales of diesel have recovered better than the city outlets. “Petrol sales have gone up because many people are using two-wheelers to commute as local trains are not plying and there are not enough buses on the road either,” said a retail outlet owner.

Bharat claimed that LPG sales have grown in the state mainly because it supplied three cylinders free of cost to beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Ujjala Yojna.

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