The petrol stock in the Capital will be over by Friday evening, the head of the Federation of All India Petroleum Traders said late on Friday morning. Sixty to seventy per cent of petrol pumps have gone dry already as employees of public sector oil firms continue their strike.
There are 413 petrol pumps in Delhi and of these 250 had run out of fuel by late Thursday night, according to Ashok Badhwar, president of the federation. But of the 413 around 100 are run by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), which are selling fuel, as HPCL employees have stayed out of the strike.
"Almost 60 to 70 per cent stock of petrol in fuelling stations across the country has dried up. In Delhi the petrol stock will be over by Friday evening," Badhwar told IANS.
The oil sector officers' association, an umbrella organisation of 45,000 employees in public sector oil companies, started an indefinite strike on Wednesday in support of their salary hike demand.
As huge queues built up outside the few petrol pumps that were still selling fuel and led to traffic snarls, Badhwar said: "The petrol pumps generally have stock to satisfy the demand for three days but following the mad rush of vehicle owners the stock has now been exhausted by the second day. Most of the people are getting their tanks full to avoid running out of fuel in case the strike continues."
Shweta, who was caught in a traffic jam in central Delhi, said: "My car was stuck in a traffic jam for more than one hour. My car's fuel tank is full but I was stuck as others were queuing at petrol pumps."
Many people were doing the rounds of petrol pumps as most of them displayed 'no petrol' boards.
"I went to almost four petrol pumps before I managed to get petrol for my bike. I was doing the rounds since 4 a.m. despite the winter chill as it would have been difficult to wait in long queues in the latter part of the day," said Krishna Chibber, a resident of Patel Nagar.
Most fuelling stations that do have petrol have been open round the clock to meet the demand.
"Our staff worked till late night as there was a long queue. We also stopped giving petrol to many people carrying cans to avoid any black marketing. Our stock dried up early Friday morning and we are now waiting for the strike to end," said Manish Chopra, who owns a petrol pump at Green Park in south Delhi.
At the 100-odd HPCL petrol pumps, the wait was sometimes as long as four hours.
"I came here at 6 a.m and have just managed to get the petrol filled in my car at 10 am. There is a big queue here," said Nikhil Sharma outside a HPCL petrol pump in south Delhi.
For the harassed resident, the situation has been worsened by the ongoing truck operators' strike in support of their demand for cheaper diesel and tyres. As vegetable stocks in many markets ran low, there was panic buying.