Even as the Centre is nudging people to switch to digital payments for routine transactions, the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) has prescribed precautions in the use of mobile wallets and point of sale devices at petrol pumps.

“We have told the petroleum ministry that the use of mobile wallets and swipe machines for debit cards should be avoided while a vehicle is being fueled and a hazardous area around the fuel dispensing area must be clearly and prominently marked out,” a senior industry ministry official told The Hindu.

The PESO, entrusted with the administration of the Explosives Act of 1884 and the Petroleum Act of 1934, reports to the department of industrial policy and promotion in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The official said it is now the petroleum ministry’s role to communicate these safety instructions to retail outlets for petroleum products.

“There would be no objection for the use of POS unit/mobile e-wallet beyond the hazardous area around the petroleum dispenser in petroleum retail outlets licensed under the Petroleum Rules, 2002,” Joint Chief Controller of Explosives NT Shahu wrote in a missive to the oil and industry ministries on December 19.

As per the norms regarding electrical appliances’ use around fuel pumps, there are two hazardous zones. Zone 1, which is most hazardous covers the area 1.2 metres vertically above the base of the fuel pump and 45 centimetres away horizontally in all directions. Zone 2 includes the area between 45 cms and six metres of the cabinet enclosing the fuel pump, extending 45 cms vertically above the floor level.

On Saturday, National Disaster Management Authority’s previous vice chairman M. Shashidhar Reddy wrote to Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha and called for urgent steps to ensure that these conditions laid out by PESO are meticulously followed to prevent any untoward incidents.

“I request you to immediately direct the Petroleum & Natural Gas ministry and chief secretaries of all states to take necessary steps to comply with the advisory from PESO in a time bound manner. This is extremely important from the point of view of public safety consequent to their being pushed to the use of digital payment platforms post-demonetisation,” Mr. Reddy said.