EC asks OMCs to put petrol pump allotment on hold for now

New Delhi: As the first phase of the 2019 General Elections concluded, the Election Commission (EC) asked the three state-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs) — Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) — to put on hold the allotment of petrol pumps for now. According to a senior OMC official, “We were directed by the EC not to go ahead with further allotment of fuel outlets.” The OMCs had earlier planned to allot at least 41 percent of the total 78,493 new fuel retail outlets that were put up on sale.

OMCs wanted to allot at least 41% retail outlets

They had approached the EC around mid-March and had said that they wanted to at least give letters of intents to 31,800 successful bidders in April and May. The fuel retailers had then argued that since the bidding started in November and the allotment process began before the elections, it could not be put on hold because of the model code of conduct. The firms had issued letters of intent to bidders for 2,579 locations on February 21.

The number-speak

The three state-owned retailers had together received over 400,000 applications for 74,608 locations, or 95 percent of the areas that were on offer. The opening of over 78,000 fuel retail outlets is expected to bring in an investment of Rs 80,000-90,000 crore in the sector.