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Fuel Stations Shut Down to Protest Increased Ethanol Blending in Petrol; Consumers Affected

People in West Bengal had a harrowing experience as close to 3,000 fuel stations were closed on Tuesday to strike against the central government’s decision to increase ethanol blending in petrol to 22.5 per cent, and also due to short supply of fuel to dispensing pump stations.

The 24-hour ‘No-purchase, no-sale’ strike began at 6 am. Owners of fuel stations in the state complained that petrol mixed with ethanol was a massive problem as ethanol is hygroscopic in nature, which means it absorbs water from air, and West Bengal’s weather was highly humid.

They alleged that they already had issues due to the E10 gasohol mix (10 percent ethanol mixed with petrol or gasoline) and now with the increase in ethanol’s percentage, the problem will be further aggravated.

Prasenjit Sen, joint secretary of West Bengal Petroleum Dealers Association (WBPDA), said, “Not only does it (ethanol) absorb water from the atmosphere, but it also causes damage to underground tanks at stations due to rainwater. This is an alarming situation and will cause problems for us as well as for consumers. It will degrade the quality of fuel and create mistrust. In future, we will go for a bigger protest if our demands are not met.”

On the issue of short supply of fuel to pump stations by oil marketing companies, he said, “It is a long pending demand and has not been resolved yet. During the transit of fuel from one place to another, a significant profit margin (nearly 1 per cent) goes in while managing the pilferage.”

Long queues of vehicles were seen at different fuel stations run by Indian Oil, which is not a part of the strike, in Kolkata and adjoining districts.

Representatives of WBPDA will meet state minister of transport and housing Firhad Hakim to share their grievances and demands in the afternoon at 3 pm. Hakim has assured the association that he will look into their demands, following their discussion.

The above news was originally posted on www.news18.com

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