When you queue up at a fuel station, pay attention to that 15 to 30 paise change that's not returned to you. It might not be a big deal, but an NGO, Panchgavya, in Bangalore estimates that consumers lose about Rs 300 crore a year from short-changing at petrol stations. It has filed a public interest litigation in the Karnataka High Court asking the state to account for these funds.
Arun Kumar, Founder Member, Panchagavya Trust said, "What prompted us to file the PIL was that the amount involved is huge which is going unaccounted even though we are paying it. It is not the fault of anyone, it's a failure on the part of the system."
Petrol sales in Bangalore alone amount to 8 lakh litres a day. At Rs 50.62 paise a litre, that's over Rs 4 crore, and it's no small change. Taking price fluctuations across India into account, on an average, 18 paise per litre is not returned to the consumer. While some believe the issue can be dealt with by using cards to pay for fuel, cashless transactions are still a long way from India's fuel stations.
It's true that a little change does not matter too much. Petrol pumps normally distribute the extra money among their staff. But Rs 300 crore is a lot of money, and that's only on petrol sales. If other fuels are taken into account, the figure could well surpass the Rs 500 crore. That's big bucks from small change.