Now, petrol at your doorstep! This is the zaniest delivery scheme imaginable driven by e-commerce methods, and has nothing comparable anywhere in the world. When oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan announced the government’s decision at a meeting of the consultative committee of Parliament on petroleum in Srinagar on Friday, he appears not to have paused to think of the security dimension. He breezily said tankers or “mini-petrol pumps” will come to your home, like the newspaper wallah or the doodh wallah. But unlike these traditional objects of sale, petrol and diesel can be looted by criminal elements and then put to a variety of uses — such as making bombs and other incendiary materials, adulteration with substances like kerosene, and by arsonists.
Quite plausibly, this is why petroleum and diesel are not even sold in bottles or jerry cans by petrol bunks. If the petroleum ministry has so much time on its hands as to churn out “consumer-friendly” schemes such as these, it might as well do some elaborate sums and tell us if this a more efficient way of distribution of fuel, even if not safer, than the existing one. If the idea is to kill queues at petrol stations and generate a tier of employment in the distribution trade for fuel, this can be done by allotting more petrol stations. Home delivery in an explosive substance is a dangerous idea, considering that insurgencies and armed protests are the order of the day in around a quarter of the country or more, if naxal activity is taken into account.