Barely a few months before the Lok Sabha elections, the largest oil company in India, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) has announced to set up about 1,024 new petrol pumps in West Bengal.

At present, there are about 1,200 petrol pumps in the state. The IOCL has invited entrepreneurs to set up 35,000 petrol stations throughout the country. This is the first time in the past four years the Narendra Modi-government has approved the Central public sector oil company’s plan to expand its pan-Indian retail network.

Talking to The Statesman today, Mr. Amar Nath Mukhopadhyay, senior Manager ( Retail Sales) of IOCL in Durgapur said that out of the total 1,024 retail petrol pumps in West Bengal, about 317 pumps will be set up under Durgapur division which has six districts ~ Murshidabad (65), Bankura (37), Birbhum (54), Purulia (27), Burdwan East (78) and Burdwan West (58).

In Burdwan East and Burdwan West the new petrol pumps will also have CNG pumping facilities. At present there are only four CNG petrol pumps in Burdwan West District.

But the consortium of Indian Oil Corporation and Adani Gas Private Limited has bagged the piped natural gas (PNG) supply for domestic cooking gas and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for commercial and automobile sector in City Gas Distribution (CGD) network in Burdwan West and Burdwan east Districts.

The Greater Kolkata Gas Corporation has already bagged the City Gas Distribution Network in Kolkata City.

Indian Oil plans to set up petrol pumps with CNG stations in all the existing petrol pumps and new upcoming pumps in phase wise, sources said. The applicants have to download the brochure online and the deadline of application ends on 24 December, IOCL sources said.

There has been a lot of relaxation given by IOCL including increasing the upper age limit from 55 years to 60 years, educational qualification has been fixed at matriculation instead of earlier graduation.

Even multiple dealership norms have also been relaxed and applicants without land can also apply. The expansion of retail outlets have been undertaken to meet the growing fuel needs of emerging markets like upcoming highways, agriculture pockets and industrial hubs in the country, sources said.

India is the third largest oil consuming nation in the world and experiences one of the fastest growing rates in oil demand Rising per capita income and growing demand for road freight will be one of the key driver over the next 15 to 20 years, sources said.

The move will boost both huge capital for the Centre and also explore avenues of fresh employment opportunities directly and indirectly due to massive capacity enhancement as the number of petrol pumps are likely to go double in the next three years.