Oil PSUs board rickshaws to keep losses under check

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This could turn out to be a unique protest against government?s populist decision to keep retail prices of petrol and diesel insulated from global crude prices, forcing public sector oil companies to sell at a loss. Soon you will find oil marketing companies (OMCs) like IOC, BPCL and HPCL promoting cycle rickshaws in the busy streets of Delhi, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Noida and other north Indian cities. Fuel retailers are considering a proposal to adopt cycle rickshaws under mission Indivelop ? an initiative based on Prof CK Prahlad?s development model of `The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid.?

“OMCs lose about Rs 4 on the sale of every litre of petrol and over Rs 6 on every litre of diesel. Public sector oilcos are losing about Rs 240 crore everyday.

In such a situation, saving of every drop will count. Promoting cycle rickshaws means less consumption of auto fuel; that would lead to a proportional decline in losses suffered by OMCs,” a source in the government said. Even as the administered price mechanism (APM) for fuel retailing in the country has been dismantled, the government regulates pricing of petroleum products sold by PSUs. Private retailers like Reliance and Essar, who are free to charge market price from customers, are forced to shut down pumps due to predatory pricing by public sector OMCs.

“Rickshaw is a non-polluting, clean and sustainable mode of transport. It gives employment to million of people. There is noting wrong in encouraging such transport system for shorter distances,” an official of an OMC said. It is learnt that petroleum ministry has forwarded the project proposal to oilcos.

The model of Indivelop is simple and a win-win situation for both rickshaw pullers as well as the oilcos. It proposes to re-design and standardise rickshaws with proper dress code for rickshaw pullers.

The project would also provide social security scheme, involving insurance, saving account, health check-up and night shelter to rickshaw pullers free of cost. The project would be funded through the advertisement revenue generated by selling ad space to oilcos on cycle rickshaws, pullers? dress, rickshaw stands and public conveniences.

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Source: Economic Times (link opens in a new window)