Chennai: An acute shortage of petrol and diesel has gripped the city as several petrol bunks went dry on Monday, prompting irate vehicle owners to stage protests amidst complaints of hoarding and lack of supply.
Monday morning office-goers were the worst hit, as they were greeted by `no stock` boards and verbal announcements at most of the petrol bunks across the city.
Serpentine queues of motorists desperately searching for fuel could be seen in front of some bunks holding stocks. People carrying empty bottles thronged them, apparently after their vehicles stranded on running out of petrol.
The outlets of different oil companies in the city are now sporting a deserted look even as the bunks in adjoining districts also face the risk of running out of stocks.
Dealers complained of lack of supply by the OMCs but the consumers accused them of hoarding diesel anticipating a steep hike in the fuel on the lines of petrol.
Tamil Nadu Petroleum Dealers Association President M Kannan said there was shortage of supply of petrol and diesel due to reported under production by the refineries.
Dismissing the charge of hoarding by retailers, he said there were penal provisions for such action. "Why should we hoard petrol? Any consumer can make a complaint to the authorities who can verify the stock."
He said the worst hit were retailers of Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation.
But city motorists are puzzled at the development days after the steepest increase in petrol price. Sivam, an auto driver, wondered, why petrol was not being sold despite `such a hefty increase in its selling price.`
Spokesperson of a city-based refinery, mainly catering to Indian Oil Corporation, here denied any shortage of supplies on their side, saying "operations are normal" and that petrol was being supplied to oil marketing companies after the refining process.