Responding to complaints from transporters and general public and also to ensure safe movement of traffic, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways recently asked oil companies to take immediate steps for removal of shortcomings at their retail outlets located along national highways.
The retail outlets of oil companies operating along national highways are required to follow certain norms laid down by the MoRTH. However, it has come to light that many of the retail outlets on national highways do not satisfy the norms prescribed by the MoRTH and their construction is not as per the approved drawings.
At the meeting of the Committee to consider minor deviation in respect of retail outlets, held under the Chairmanship of Secretary – Road Transport and Highways on July 4th, 2013, it was revealed that out of the 996 retail outlets along national highways in the states of Haryana and Punjab, only 636 had obtained the approval of the MoRTH and 66 constructed as per approved drawings. What this means is that less than 7 percent of the retail outlets along national highways in the two states have been constructed as per approved drawings.
The Secretary – RT&H, during the meeting of the Committee on July 4th, 2013, had sought information from the participating representatives of the oil companies as to whether the retail outlets on Delhi – Chandigarh section of NH -1, Hyderabad – Bengaluru section of NH – 7 and Gandhinagar – Mumbai section of NH – 8 were constructed as per norms laid down by the MoRTH. The representatives of IOCL, BPCL and HPCL responded that information with regard to existing retail outlets along the identified national highway corridors was being collected and that it would take 15 days to compile the data. It was decided during the meeting that the oil companies would compile the necessary information and also submit a roadmap for rectification in cases where needed by July 19th, 2013. The Secretary – RT&H clarified at the meeting that pending compilation of the information no more cases for granting access permission to retail outlets along national highways would be processed by the MoRTH.
The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on September 4th, 2013, shows that the oil companies did not keep their commitment given during the earlier meeting.
At the meeting held on September 4th, 2013, the Chief Engineer (Planning), MoRTH, pointed out that the information provided by oil companies with regard to retail outlets was incomplete and hence did not serve any purpose. The representative from BPCL at the meeting informed that his company had carried out joint inspection of the retail outlets along the identified national highway stretches as well as of those located in the states of Haryana and Punjab, and where needed, the issues have been identified and blue print prepared. The IOCL representative while providing details of a similar exercise said that his company had made budgetary provision for removal of shortcomings at its retail outlets along the identified national highway stretches.
After detailed deliberations between MoRTH officials headed by the Secretary – RT& H and representatives of oil companies, it was decided at the meeting that oil companies would complete the task of preparing blue print for removal of all shortcomings at their retail outlets located along the identified national highway stretches as well as those located in the states of Haryana and Punjab and provide a timeframe for rectification by September 10th, 2013. Where the oil companies faced problems specific to certain retail outlets during the exercise, details of the same needed to be furnished, the representatives of the oil companies were told. It was clarified during the meeting that the task of removing the shortcomings at retail outlets would not be restricted to the identified national highway stretches and extend to other national highway corridors in the country as well. The oil companies needed to complete the same exercise for their retail outlets located along other national highway corridors by October 31st, 2013, the representatives were told. The MoRTH would not consider any more deviation cases till the oil companies complete the exercise.