Is it meant for the black marketeers?
IMPHAL: While the nation and state have imposed lockdown to contain the Coronavirus pandemic which has killed thousands and affected millions all over the world, many seemed to be neglecting or acting totally unaware of the deadly virus as suggested by their activities defying the norms of the lockdown.
On Monday, while this The Morning Bell reporter was collecting reports on sale of petrol on black, oil barrels being filled with oil at a petrol pump was witnessed.
The thing was that though there was no ‘Close’ sign at the petrol pump where petrol/diesel were being filled into oil barrels brought in a dipper truck, the entrance was closed/blocked with a rope so as to indicate ‘Close’ or prevent anyone from entering. Moreover, the irony is that there are no notifications for allocation of permission for sale of petrol to the pump from the concerned government department.
Upon seeing the pump in the apparently operational mode, without a visible closed sign nearby, many vehicle owners stopped there with the hope of filling their vehicles as well. However, they all met with same dejection as the pump operators told them that the station was not actually opened for business.
When The Morning Bell reporter inquired how and under whose order they were filling the oil barrels, all they said was that it was being done under oil provision for essential service.
The whole episode happened in the morning of Monday at the IOCL Petrol Pump station near Wangkhei Tokpam Leikai along Singjamei-Kongba road, Imphal East.
Everyone is aware that no petrol pump has been allowed to function since May 7, 2020, except for government allotted pumps like PCTC, that also only for essential services only. In the meantime, many petrol pumps were found to be filling petrol/diesels to customers that do belong to the essential services category.
However, late Monday afternoon, a notice signed by Chief Secretary Dr. J. Suresh Babu was circulated which instructed that all petrol pumps should be opened for all essential services and for all buses which are engaged in picking up stranded passengers, all the vehicles returning after dropping the passengers and all vehicles which are engaging in official duties.
The truck left the pump after filling all the barrels, an incident and episode which has left many, who were denied petrol and again left to the mercy of the black market vendors, baffled.
One person who identified himself Rakesh asked this reporter that on what ground the truck was filling the petrol/diesel in the oil barrels despite the pump being closed for all.
It is a proof of illegal sales of petrol/diesel openly, for the black marketers, by the pump owners and dealers, Rakesh sigh.
Rakesh further stated that the very petrol pump is unlikely to have been given authorization by the government to open for the essential services. If permit was given, no vendors would be selling petrol on black in front of the very petrol pump, he added.
He appealed the concern government department to look into such incidents at the earliest to stop illegal sales of petrol in the black market at high rate and said that such petrol pump might be one of many operating on such clandestine basis.
Later, Rakesh bought petrol from the black market vendors at the rate of Rs. 140 as he had no choice.
It may be mentioned that though the IOCL Petrol Pump station near Wangkhei Tokpam Leikai along Singjamei-Kongba road remain closed, many locals near to the pump has come to the street selling petrol at high rates. The rate was so high that sometimes back one litre reaches Rs. 200.
The present rate of petrol and diesel is not more than Rs. 70 to Rs. 80 at petrol pumps.
On the other hand, amidst the imposed lockdown and curfew which has ban public movement, mass gathering, unnecessary travelling except for essential services (medical, pharmacy, water supply, electricity, media, police, and permitted wholesale retailers, etc.), security personnel/state police deployed in all the concern districts are having hard time controlling the public who are defying the lockdown and curfew norms.
Since the State Government has announced Covid-19-free state and inclusion in the green zone bracket after the first and second Covid-19 positive persons tested negative, both young and old are now seen on the roads, despite government lockdown being still imposed.
Despite warning, every day 100s are detained and fined for violating the lockdown. But many still continue to come on the road in the name of walking, strolling, jogging and some even went too far that they travel at the parks, gardens, hillocks.
If we are to stay safe from the Covid-19, we must follow the government guidelines to prevent infection from Covid-19, which includes confining in our homes, wearing face masks, social distancing, etc. rather than violating the guidelines to pay fines, unnecessarily.
Security Personnel/State Police have also been appealing the general public to remain inside their homes for their safety and to wear masks, maintain social distancing, etc. if they are compelled to come out to buy essential needs.
During this lockdown, state government has issued an order to close most of the shops, petrol pumps, business establishments, markets, etc., except for few governments allotted grocery shops and petrol pumps that also for few hours for six days except for Sunday.