The Dhanbad district administration has ordered fuel outlets to refill only to people who show a proof of Covid-19 vaccination, a move meant to ramp up inoculation in the coal hub of Jharkhand which is lagging behind.
On Sunday, Dhanbad additional district magistrate (law and order) Kumar Tarachand said the initiative has been done to enforce complete vaccination.
“It would be mandatory for all vehicle owners to show proof of their vaccination to get a refill of fuel from the retail outlets. The directive has been sent to all the fuel outlets in this connection. Apart from fuel outlets, we will also be checking vaccination certificates of fuel refill outlets staff, street vendors and public transport drivers,” said Tarachand.
Justifying the decision, the official said: “Refill centres, street vendors and public transport witness a large number of people every day and we want these centres not to act as Covid infection spreading point. The drivers of public transport also interact with a large number of people and they need to be vaccinated.”
Random checking would be conducted among public transport drivers and also street vendors to see if they have vaccination proof, he said, adding vaccination camps would be organised for street vendors and hawkers.
The decision evoked mixed reaction from the refill outlet owners.
“We welcome the district administration's intention to enforce vaccination drives to curb spread of the Covid-19 infection. However, the administration should understand our limitation that refill outlets are not law enforcing agencies. The administration should depute security personnel to control unruly behaviour by customers who get agitated in the name of showing vaccination proof,” said Kalika Shah, a Dhanbad-based refill unit owner and an executive member of Jharkhand Petroleum Dealers Association.
The refill unit owner also said that it was practically impossible to inspect each and every customer’s jab record.
“It would take not less than a minute or two for a customer to take out their smartphone and search the Covid vaccine message and then depend on the network to get the vaccination document on the phone to produce before the refill unit staff. We are already short staffed. It would be an extra burden on our staff and also time consuming,” Shah added.
Significantly, as on November 21, only 66.48 per cent of the population of Jharkhand have been partially vaccinated while only 29.02 per cent have received their second dose.
There are over 250 fuel refill units spread across Dhanbad district.