Now here’s one government decision that all of us might be able to get behind. In its mission to give its Digital India initiative a much needed push, the government is contemplating putting petrol and diesel along with its various products on ecommerce platform.

Yes, this means, very soon you might no longer have to wait in those long, long petrol pump lines and waste your prestigious time. Just like online shopping for your clothes, electronics and grocery, you might soon be able to shop for petrol and diesel online.

Taking the podium at the recently concluded India Mobile Congress, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan revealed that his ministry plans on connecting oil with IT and telecommunications soon by putting all petroleum products on e-commerce platform.

It isn’t the first time that this particular idea was conceived. Media reports suggest that the idea was first shared by Pradhan at a consultative committee meeting of Members of Parliament in Srinagar on April 21st this year.

From statistics point of view, India is currently home to around 60,000 fuel retail outlets. The size of the entire petroleum industry comes out to be around a whopping Rs 6.5 lakh crore. On an average, 40 million consumers come to these retail outlets on a daily basis. If the government is successful in offering petrol and diesel online, it will ease a lot of daily pressure from these offline retail outlets.

But, is it feasible and safe to deliver popular fuels such as petrol and diesel via the internet? Number of industry weighed in on the issue and shared their viewpoints with IANS. While majority of them think that this is a highly feasible project, but all of them did point out their concern for safe handling of the liquids.

According to Deepak Mahurkar, leader, oil and gas at PricewaterhouseCoopers India, “It is technically feasible to offer petrol on e-commerce sites and later get it delivered at doorsteps. But it has to be sealed properly and should be handled in a delicate manner. The need for emergency supplies can be met through this channel. It may become a popular product in rural areas where for miles there are no fuel pumps.”

Not only rural areas, the move is expected to gain major traction in urban areas as well as currently there are few petrol pumps in the heart of many cities and urbanisation is taking place at a jet-speed rate.

Former ONGC Chairman and Managing Director R.S.Sharma, said, “It is a technically feasible project. It can become highly commercially scaleable model. But safety is a major concern.”

"Technically it is possible. But it has to have a proper dispensing norm. It needs to stick to the norms set by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) to meet safety. Given the way retailing space is becoming precious, e-commerce route can be an alternative route," said Anish De, Partner, infrastructure, government and healthcare and Leader, oil and gas, at KPMG in India.

In addition to the safety concerns pertaining to the mobility and delivery of the fuels, industry experts also expressed their concerns about the price at which these fuels will be sold on the ecommerce platforms. There are concerns that a service fee might be levied as fuel will be delivered to doorsteps. On the other hand, there’s also a possibility that big players in the fuel industry might even end up cutting the price, in hunger of grabbing a larger share of the market.

This development was first reported in the Business standard.

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