Elementary, Chief Minister O Ibobi and Spokesman of the SPF Government N Biren, Sirs. Maybe this is what needs to be told whenever the two gentlemen scratch their heads and wonder why there are long queues outside petrol pumps everyday. The winter chill is beginning to be felt but this has not driven away the mosquitoes and braving the chill as well as the irritating mosquitoes cannot be anyone’s idea of spending a good evening. There is no pleasure in spending the night in a long queue outside a petrol pump to get petrol worth Rs 500/600/700 or for even Rs 1000 the next morning. There is no dignity in having to stand in a queue that may stretch for half a kilometre, at a very conservative estimation, and the indignity of having to be shouted upon or glared at by the gallant men in khakis while finding a place in the queue is something which the present dispensation will not understand, living as they are in their ivory towers. Then why wonder why there are still queues outside petrol pumps ? Arrogance is one factor which has definitely blinded these people to the facts surrounding them. The people line up and spend hours waiting for their turn to get petrol because there is not enough petrol going around. Why has this simple and elementary fact blown over the heads of the people who come under the name of Ministers and political leaders ? Panic buying ? This argument should be trashed and thrown into the dustbin. Why not panic buying ? What has the Government done to instil a sense of confidence that when the people need petrol, the pumps will be open ? How many days has it been since the people have had to ply their vehicles on rationed fuel ? Has the Government forgotten that the economic blockade has been in force since August 1 this year and that it has already crossed the 100 days mark ? The queues will disappear the moment it becomes clear that petroleum products will be available, especially during emergency, such as when someone in the family falls sick. Why doesn’t this simple fact, elementary ABCs of life, sink into the heads of the people, understood as the chosen leaders of the people ? If the situation was not so serious, it would have surely elicited loud guffaws from everyone. A case of dementia brought about by the intoxicating influence of being in power for ten long years or is it a case of arrogance coming out in all its ugly manifestations ? And here we are talking only about petrol, not diesel.
Trucks are coming in along the Imphal-Jiribam line. Fuel tankers including LPG bullet trucks too have been coming in. Petrol pumps have not been remaining closed for the greater period of this month, which is already into its 18th day. So why the long queues ? Why the panic buying ? The Government has raised these questions on the premise that fuel pumps have been meeting the need of the people all this while and hence there is absolutely no business to form long queues and spend the night over at the pumps. Change track now to some cold statistics. According to records available for the past seven days, a total of 404 kilolitres of petrol were released to the public through the fuel pumps. A brief break up measured in kilolitres goes thus-60, including 20 for those with Government permits on November 16, 80 on November 15, 72 on November 14, 76 on November 12, 56 on November 11 and 60 on November 10. As per the figures given by IOC, the daily petrol requirement for the whole State is 70 Kl. In seven days it means that the petrol requirement is 490 Kl. This means that in the seven days just mentioned there was a shortfall of 86 Kl. This in effect means that there was a deficit of 86,000 litres of petrol in the past seven days. Supposing that 10 litres of petrol are allotted to each vehicle and divide 86,000 by 10 and a simple application of the mind says that 8,600 vehicles did not receive their share and it is easy to understand why there are long queues outside petrol pumps. This is definitely not rocket science technology nor does it involve any complex mathematical problem solving exercise. Panic buying or shortage of fuel ? Even if it is granted that there is no shortage of petrol, then why the heck is rationing still in force ? Why not allow each and every single vehicle to fill, shut and forget ? And what does the Government do to tackle this ‘menace’ ? Set the cops on the people who have come to line up outside petrol pumps and deflate the tyres of their vehicles. The Chief Minister and his men should thank their stars that the people of Manipur or more specifically the valley districts are a tolerant lot.