New Delhi: After taking a U-turn over keeping petrol pumps shut from 8 pm to 8 am to conserve fuel, Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily on Monday indicated that his ministry has proposed a diesel price hike of Rs 5 per litre.
While speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Moily said there has been no proposal to limit the timing of petrol pumps but conceded that a basket of proposals to stop wastage of fuel had been sent to the government.
"That's not my proposal, I don't know from where these proposals have come. People must be coining out ideas, that doesn't mean we have initiated the proposal, we have not conceived any such proposal," Moily said.
He said the government will announce austerity measures on September 16. "There is no proposal at all, there is no question of backtracking. We are working on mega conservative measures, which will be launched on 16th. We are working on that but this proposal is not before us," he said.
When asked why he raised the issue of closing petrol pumps in the night, he said, "I referred to it as one of the ideas floated by people. I never said this is a part of our proposal."
Moily also said the Oil Ministry is currently in a position to provide 24-hour supply of petrol every day all over the country. "We are not in a crisis, I am in a position to provide 24-hour oil in every corner and economy will not be effected. We are in a position to manage things," Moily said.
Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram reportedly rejected the proposal of keeping petrol pumps open only from 8 am to 8 pm. Reacting to the proposal, Chidambaram said, "It's not a government suggestion but one which had come from the public as the Oil Minister has himself clarified. Should the government close itself to the public's suggestions?"
This came after the government faced criticism over the Oil Ministry's proposal. Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily was on the backfoot after his suggestion of having petrol pumps open for 12 hours in a day.
There was uproar in Parliament over Moily's proposal in view of the ongoing economic crisis. The Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party staged a walkout while the BJP said that Moily should have taken the House into confidence as Parliament is in session.
Moily said that the idea to keep petrol pumps open from 8 am to 8 pm was not the government's idea but had come from the public. He went on to say that the ministry has not taken any decision yet and no decision will be taken to keep petrol pumps dry in any part of the country.
BJP leader Yashwant Sinha dismissed the suggestions and said it will worsen the economic situation. "Why is the government making such suggestions? This will only worsen the situation in the country. I strongly oppose the suggestion," Sinha said.
The Left Front, too, condemned the idea. "This decision is preposterous. This is like a pre-economic emergency crisis. We condemn this. The government should take oil from Iran," said Left leader Gurudas Dagupta.
"Shutting petrol pumps at night will not lead to less consumption. This is not a solution and the government should talk to everyone and come up with a solution," Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Aggarwal said.
While experts called it an 'ill-advised' idea saying it may create panic in the market, many said this may lead to black-marketing. "This idea to keep petrol pumps closed from 8 pm to 8 am is a very ill advised idea. It's not going to work. This idea if implemented will create black market and panic. You can put some night surcharge but don't stop selling it," said petroleum sector analyst Narendra Taneja.