The government is considering various proposals including shutting petrol pumps in the night to taper fuel demand as it looks at ways to cut the massive oil import bill, Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily said today, drawing a sharp reaction from BJP.
"There are various options and ideas that have been floated. Shutting petrol pumps during night is one of them. But we have not decided. It is just a proposal," Moily said.
His ministry plans to launch a massive fuel conservation drive from September 16 to cut fuel demand by 3 per cent and save an estimated Rs 16,000 crore or USD 2.5 billion in forex outgo.
The oil import bill is being trimmed to bring down current account deficit.
"Shutting petrol pump is an idea that has come to us. We have not adopted it. It is not my view," Moily said.
Reacting sharply, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said, "What is petrol pump,? Government will close the country... Won't the people fill their car fuel tanks in the morning. This is a strange move by Moily".
If the Manmohan Singh government has run out of ideas to tackle the economic mess, it can take suggestions from the BJP, he said.
Oil Secretary Vivek Rae said there was no plan before the ministry to order petrol pumps in cities to remain shut from 8 pm to 8 am to curb demand for petrol and diesel.
The Minister said Petroleum Conservation and Research Association (PCRA) under his ministry will from September 16 launch a 6 week campaign to promote conservation of petrol, diesel and LPG.
Moily had also written a detailed note to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on shaving off upto USD 20 billion out of the USD 144.293 billion oil import bill of 2012-13. The August 30 note does not talk of shutting petrol pumps in the night but details out conservation campaign as well as raising oil imports from Iran to cut import bill.
Moily said we are planning many austerity measures and urged people to save fuel.