Delhi: Petrol pumps shut for 24 hours, auto-taxis go on strike today

Two strikes called by auto-taxi unions and petrol pumps against the Delhi govt policies on VAT and cab aggregators such as Ola, Uber is set to cripple traffic and inconvenience commuters

Photo by Parveen Negi/India Today Group/Getty Images
Photo by Parveen Negi/India Today Group/Getty Images
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NH Web Desk

Two strikes called by auto-taxi unions and petrol pumps on Monday, October 22, are set to cripple traffic movement and severely inconvenience commuters in Delhi and the national capital region (NCR).

The auto-rickshaw and taxi unions are protesting against the Delhi government’s policies on cab aggregators Uber and Ola, and the Centre’s rule on speed governors.

Fuel pumps in the national capital will remain shut for 24 hours starting Monday 6 am to press the Delhi government to lower value-added tax (VAT) on the key transport fuels.

The central government as well as several state governments, including Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, slashed fuel prices, but the Delhi government refused to cut VAT, making the fuels costlier in the national capital. This has caused losses ranging between 20% and 30%, as commuters prefer to get their vehicle-fuel tanks filled at a fuel station in the neighbouring cities, the Delhi Petrol Dealers Association (DPDA) said on Sunday, October 22.

Last month, the Centre slashed the rate of petrol and diesel by ₹2.50 per litre each, which was followed by the reduction in VAT by many states.

"In comparison to Delhi, petrol in UP and Haryana is cheaper by Rs 2.59 and Rs 1.95 per litre, respectively, while diesel in these two states is cheaper by Rs 2.02 and Rs 1.72 per litre, respectively," DPDA President Singhania had told reporters earlier in the week.

"Because of high price in Delhi and low prices in states like Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, customers are deserting the petrol pumps in Delhi, leading to a huge drop in sales," he said.

According to Singhania, the price difference has caused a sharp drop of 50-60% in sale of diesel and 25 per cent in petrol in Delhi during the current quarter.

"Almost 200 pumps out of 400 could be on the verge of shutting down, leading to retrenchment of thousands of workers and affecting lakhs of people in the city," he said.

The dealers' body also pointed to the bigger concern about the environment-friendly Euro-VI grade fuel being currently available only in the National Capital Territory (NCT) and the risks of consumers choosing the cheaper, dirtier fuels.

"Environment-friendly Euro VI fuel is available only in NCT of Delhi and produces 80 per cent less emissions than Euro IV fuels. There is also an apprehension of inter-state smuggling of inferior Euro IV fuel in the city," Singhania said, adding that Delhi's pollution worsens during the winter months.

"There are about 400 petrol pumps in Delhi which also have linked CNG pumps. Both will remain closed from 6 am on October 22 to 5 am on October 23," the DPDA statement said.

All India Tour and Transport Association chairman Inderjeet Singh said that the unions made “multiple attempts” to reach out to the governments at the Centre and Delhi. “But we got no response. So we are now forced to block roads to make our voice heard.”

Auto-Taxis union to strike against Delhi govt’s policies

The one-day strike has been called by Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti, one of the major auto-taxi unions in Delhi, and supported by others like All India Tour and Transport Association (AITTA).

AITTA chairman Inderjeet Singh said that the unions made “multiple attempts” to reach out to the governments at the Centre and Delhi. “But we got no response. So we are now forced to block roads to make our voice heard.”

"The one-day 'Chakka Jaam' protest by the Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti will be held as the government failed to listen to our grievances," said Inderjeet Singh, chairman of the All India Tour and Transport Association and convener of the joint forum.

"Auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers are losing their employment due to wrong transport polices of the government and also due to low fares offered to commuters by cab aggregators," he said.

Thousands of members of the affiliated associations will also go on strike and peacefully hold a protest on Monday near Parliament Street, he said.

With agency inputs

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