India's Petrol Sales Drop 17%, Diesel Down by 26 % in March Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

New Delhi: Indian state fuel retailers have sold about 17% less gasoline and about 26% less diesel in March compared to a year ago as fuel demand in Asia's third biggest economy declined due to steps taken to curb spread of the coronavirus, industry sources said.

State companies -- Indian Oil Corp, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Bharat Petroleum -- own about 90% of India's retail fuel outlets.

Local gasoline sales in March were about 1.94 million tonnes, while diesel sales reduced to 4.98 million tonnes, sources said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a 21-day lockdown that will end in mid-April in a desperate bid to stave off an epidemic among India's 1.3 billion people.

Due to restrictions on movement and travel advisories, aviation turbine sales have dropped by about 33% to 450,000 tonnes during the month, they said.

The country's consumption of liquefied petroleum gas or cooking gas rose 1.7% in March from a year earlier to about 2.3 million tonnes, they said.

Before initiating a nation-wide lockdown, India had taken steps including closure of schools, universities, shopping malls and other public gatherings and restricted air travel to control the spread of the virus.