A twin strike by fuel station owners and autorickshaw and taxi drivers that began in the national capital on Monday morning is set to cripple traffic movement and cause severe inconvenience to commuters in Delhi.
Around 400 fuel stations in the national capital began a 24-hour shutdown to press the Delhi government to slash value-added tax (VAT) on the key transport fuels to cut their losses.
The Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti, one of the major auto-taxi unions in Delhi also called for a one-day strike to protest against the Delhi government’s policies on cab aggregators Uber and Ola, and the Centre’s rule on speed governors.
Ahead of the strike, Delhi Petrol Dealers Association (DPDA) president Nischal Singhania had blamed the Arvind Kejriwal government’s refusal to reduce VAT on petrol and diesel prices which he claimed had caused losses of around 30% to the pumps in Delhi as people chose to get fuel at stations in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, which had cut VAT after the Centre slashed petrol and diesel prices by Rs 2.50 per litre each, IANS reported.
“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,” 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.
He also said that consumers are forced to go for cheaper, dirtier fuels in UP and Haryana, causing more pollution in Delhi, as the environment-friendly Euro VI fuel, that produces 80% lesser emission, is available only in the national capital.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has blamed the BJP for the strike.
“Petrol pump owners hv told us privately that this is a BJP sponsored strike, actively supported by oil cos. In fact, BJP has thrust it upon petrol pump owners. People will give BJP a befitting reply in elections for continuously inconveniencing people thro their dirty politics,” he said in a tweet on Sunday night.
The taxi strike has been supported by the All India Tour and Transport Association (AITTA). Some have threatened to block major roads in the city and stage a protest against the Centre in front of Parliament.
AITTA chairman Inderjeet Singh claimed 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.”
A senior Delhi transport department official who did not wish to be named, “The reason for the strike is completely unfounded as no such policy has been notified till now. A draft was prepared, but there has not been any development.”
Delhi has about 95,000 registered auto-rickshaws and about 1.5 lakh cabs.
Meanwhile, state-run oil marketing companies cut the prices of petrol and diesel for a fourth consecutive day on Sunday amid lower global crude oil prices.
Petrol and diesel prices in Delhi on Monday are Rs 81.44 per litre (decrease by Rs 0.30) and Rs 74.92 per litre (decrease by Rs 0.27), respectively. Petrol and diesel prices in Mumbai are Rs 86.91 per litre (decrease by Rs 0.30) and Rs 78.54 per litre (decrease by Rs 0.28), respectively.