Tuesday, June 26, 2007

OIL'S NOT WELL

In a metropolis like Mumbai, where the Premier Padmini cab seems primitive, take a look – you can still encounter a blast from the past, the humble bullock cart. Not carrying farm produce, mind you – they are pulling small oil tanks, supplying petroleum products like kerosene and lubricants. What could be more incongruous than to see the names of high-profile oil companies emblazoned across these tanks, even as they are being moved by emaciated cattle?
We encountered three such carts on the roads yesterday, all of them drawn by weak bulls, struggling to negotiate the Mumbai traffic. Their sedate pace changed to a strained trot whenever they received a few sharp whips – I even witnessed one of the owners reaching down to squeeze an ageing bull’s testicles to push him into a higher gear. One can fathom a farmer using draught animals to keep his overheads down, but multinational oil companies using animals for transport, that too in cities where several other transport options exist, seems really pathetic.
It looks as though these companies, some of them dubbed as the ‘Navratnas’ or nine-gems of the Public Sector, will not shy from exploiting animals to rationalize distribution costs. If they feign ignorance about this final leg of the transport chain, one starts to smell the stuff exiting from the rear ends of these very bulls.
Just as the poor camels on our beaches got some respite from the courts, can we not ban other animals from our roads? In the chaotic rough-and-tumble of Mumbai’s mean streets, why do we need a veritable roadshow of animals, from bullocks to donkeys to elephants?

4 comments:

Avinash said...

Dear Dr PVS,
The carts you saw are engaged not by the Oil Companies but by the vendors, who take kerosin etc to the nerrow lanes of slum ares. No other vehicle can ply there at the affordable costs.
If you have any suggestions for replacement of this system please elaborate we can place it before those vendors association.

green indians said...

Thanks Avinash for your comment. We feel that the oil companies have a moral responsibility to be aware of the final leg of their distribution chain. Just as LPG cylinders are delivered in pedal-powered carts, the products which need to reach inacessible areas can be served equally well by this means.The companies can thereby provide employment, and keep a control over the mode of distribution. Who knows, they can even prevent adulteration of their produts, which is very much possible when unrelated vendors enter the picture - you know what happens in the PDS scenario, even with authorised ration shops.

imhotep said...

Hey doc that was a cool article. Something that we notice but dosent trigger a response - satish lakshmanan

narendra shenoy said...

Read your blog with a great deal of enjoyment ("hand to mouth existence", for one) but the topics themselves are far from jolly. One can only grit one's teeth in impotent fury at the way a general disregard for our habitat has become the norm in India.

I've seen these bullocks you speak of. It is really shameful.

And what they're doing to Tadoba is simply disastrous.