At present, conventional energy sources such as coal and oil constitute more than 80% of India’s energy basket. In 2018-19, the demand for petrol grew by 8% and that for diesel by 3%.
At a time when electric vehicles are the flavour of the season, state-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs) have decided to complete the selection process for 76,000 fuel retail outlets within this year. Though the process started last year, it was stalled due to the general elections.
These outlets will be in addition to the existing 64,500-odd outlets, including those run by private firms, in the country. Meanwhile, the OMCs have also decided to launch a special drive to divest the temporary company-owned-company-operated (COCOs) outlets, to clear pending outlets to be allotted to letters of intent holders belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe categories.
Last year, the three companies — Indian Oil, BPCL and HPCL — invited bids for 78,000 locations, getting applications for more than 76,000 sites. Till the time the process of draws and lottery was stalled due to the Model Code of Conduct, the OMCs had issued letters of intent to 4,800 bidders.
According to a source, the OMCs have also been directed by the ministry of petroleum and natural gas to address issues faced by the selected candidates for dealerships in a time-bound manner.
The expansion of a retail network in rural and far-flung regions is aimed at supplying petroleum products, especially diesel used for agriculture, in these areas.
The OMCs are going on expansion mode at a time when the government, especially the Niti Aayog, is promoting electric vehicles as the preferred means of transportation. The government think-tank has proposed that after March 31, 2025, only electric-powered two-wheelers below 150cc should be sold and three-wheelers sold after March 31, 2023 should only be electric. It had also reportedly proposed that only electric vehicles should be sold in India after 2030.
The Union Budget of 2019 also proposed a slew of measures to promote electric vehicles in the country including an additional income tax deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh on the interest paid on loans taken to purchase electric vehicles. The GST Council, which is set to meet on Thursday, is also likely to bring down the rate of tax on electric vehicles from 12% at present to 5%.
However, petroleum and steel minister Dharmendra Pradhan last week clarified that there is no plan to ban petrol- and diesel-run vehicles, though the priority will be electric vehicles. At present, conventional energy sources such as coal and oil constitute more than 80% of India’s energy basket. In 2018-19, the demand for petrol grew by 8% and that for diesel by 3%.