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'Only state companies can import kerosene'

By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi Nov. 28. The Government has finally ended the 10-year-old scheme to allow imports of kerosene by private companies following complaints of growing adulteration. Imports of superior kerosene oil (SKO) will now be allowed only through the public sector oil companies — the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and IBP.

A notification to this effect has been issued by the Directorate-General of Foreign Trade under the Commerce and Industry Ministry. This follows a request made by the Petroleum Minister, Ram Naik, who had written to the Commerce and Industry Minister, Arun Jaitley, seeking to restrict imports of kerosene to "actual users". The notification says import of kerosene will be allowed through state trading enterprises such as IOC, BPCL, HPCL and IBP with the State Trading Corporation being nominated as STE for supplies to advance licence holders.

The scheme for imports by private companies, known as the parallel marketing scheme, was launched in 1992-93 to meet the shortfall in demand for kerosene by consumers. Imports by government agencies were then canalised through the public distribution system. But these imports have increased the level of adulteration in diesel.

As a result, diesel sales fell in the first half of the current fiscal despite a good monsoon and a rise in automobile sales.

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