The Kerala Federation of Petroleum Traders communicated the decision to halt fuel supply to the police vehicles to the Chief Secretary and the State Police Chief (DGP), citing outstanding payments dating back to June 2023 as the primary reason.
The Kerala Federation of Petroleum Traders has taken a firm stance on the issue, informing the state authorities that fuel supply to police vehicles will be discontinued until the pending payments are settled.
Outstanding payments from various police departments across the state have accumulated, ranging from Rs 4 lakhs to 15 lakhs for individual filling stations.
The Federation emphasised the financial strain on filling stations, stating that their profits have dwindled compared to previous periods. Simultaneously, operational expenses have surged, making it challenging for them to sustain the current arrangement.
Financial Strain and Benefit Disparities
The filling stations assert that the pending payments since June 2023 have exacerbated their financial challenges.
In addition to delayed payments, filling stations express dissatisfaction with the diminishing benefits they receive, highlighting the disparity between the benefits now and those received in the past.
With fuel supply potentially coming to a halt, the Kerala Police might face operational challenges in terms of mobility and responding to emergencies.
The impending fuel supply disruption adds an additional layer of concern for law enforcement agencies already grappling with various operational issues.
It remains to be seen whether negotiations between the petroleum traders and state authorities can lead to a resolution and avert the fuel supply cut.
The Federation’s decision underscores the financial hardships faced by filling stations, emphasising the need for a prompt and comprehensive solution to the outstanding payment issue.
Observers allege that crores of rupees have been spent on Nava Kerala Sadas and Keraleeyam, two much-publicized programmes of the state government organised to propagate its achievements. If vehicles do not get fuel, mobility of the police will be a serious issue. Even otherwise, there are complaints that police personnel do not reach the spot immediately after receiving the complaint.
Justice Kamal Pasha (Retd. Kerala High Court) said that if the police vehicles do not get fuel, the law and order situation in the state would collapse; even otherwise, it is not satisfactory. Now, the police force is used for something else. Crores of rupees were wasted for Nava Kerala Sadas and Keraleeyam. Local self-government bodies, District Collectors and Bill Collectors are asked to collect funds for these mega programmes. No proper accounts available for the revenue and expenditure of these programmes. Justice Pasha referred to Keraleeyam budget of Rs 27 crore. He said that now the accounts of Rs 4.38 alone are available. It is not known what benefits the people of Kerala derive from them. There is money for buying new cars for the ministers. There is money for the maintenance of swimming pool and the construction of cattle shed. (It appears, he was referring to Cliff House, the official residence of the CM). But, no money for welfare schemes.
Justice Pasha alleged that essential commodities are not available in Supplyco (Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation established in 1974 for making essential goods available at just prices for the common men) stores and now there are reports that Supplyco stores are going to sell alcoholic liquors. People are denied the opportunity to buy essential commodities, at just prices, during the festival season of Christmas and New Year. Justice Pasha said, police is an essential service.
There are reports that payments for the fuel sold for the government contractors are pending too. Observers conclude that corruption and extravagance are the major issues the state economy faces.
Filling station owners have also complained about security issues they face during the night. They say that if no security is provided, they would not keep the stations opened in the night.
Now, if the state government does not take any urgent and serious step to redress the filling stations’ grievances, policing will be a grave problem for the law and order situation in the state. There are reports that DGP has sought reports regarding the arrears.
This is the latest blatant example of the poor management of fiscal affairs of the state. Expenses and revenue are not managed properly. CPM leaders enjoy euphoria in blaming the union government for anything and everything.
As of the new year, the looming fuel supply halt for Kerala Police vehicles reflects a complex interplay of financial constraints, benefit disparities, and operational challenges within the state’s petroleum trade and law enforcement sectors.