Ahead of general elections, public sector oil companies plan to allot about 65,000 petrol pumps across the country to nearly double the existing retail network, officials said on Sunday.
Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) on Sunday issued advertisements for setting up 55,649 petrol pumps across the country.
"This does not include any sites in poll-bound states," HPCL's state-level coordinator Vishal Bajpai told reporters in Mumbai.
Assembly elections are on in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram and advertisement for these would be issued after polling is completed.
IOC, which already has 27,377 petrol pumps across the country, has advertised for setting up 26,982 more in states that are not going to polls. BPCL will add 15,802 outlets to its existing strength of 14,592 and HPCL would add 12,865 petrol pumps to its existing tally of 15,287.
Delhi has 390 petrol pumps and 170 more are to be set up, Bajpai said.
The poll-bound states may have some 9,000-10,000 sites, another official said.
The allotments will be done on relaxed guidelines which has lowered the educational qualification to 10th pass from 12th pass and graduate currently and the only essential requirement is ownership of the land where the pump is to be set up, Bajpai said.
This is the first time in almost four years that allotment of petrol pump sites is being advertised.
India currently has 63,674 petrol pumps, most of them with public sector firms. Nayara Energy Ltd, formerly Essar Oil Ltd, has the highest number of outlets in the private sector at 4,895 while Reliance Industries has 1,400 pumps. Royal Dutch/Shell has 116 outlets.
"For a fast-growing economy like ours, energy needs are growing manifold. PSU oil marketing companies are undertaking retail outlet (petrol pump) network expansion in tandem with the growth in demand for petrol and diesel. Retail sales of petrol and diesel are increasing at the rate of approximately 8 percent and 4 percent per annum," Bajpai said.
The expansion, he said, was being undertaken to meet the growing fuel needs and convenience of customers in emerging markets like upcoming highways, agricultural pockets and industrial hubs.
The retail outlet network in rural, remote and far-flung areas is also being expanded with the intention of increasing availability of products, predominantly diesel, ensuring quality and correct price to meet the rural agricultural demand and cater to people in remote areas, he said.
He said the process of dealer selection has been simplified by introducing online applications and doing away with the requirement of submitting voluminous documents in support of eligibility."Only the selected candidate would be required to produce the documents. Similarly, the eligibility norms have also been relaxed," he said. "Availability of suitable land at the advertised location/stretch is the most important requirement. Applicants without land can also apply, however, they are expected to offer land when called for," he added.