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Monday blues for Delhi motorists as petrol pumps observe strike

New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) Monday blues hit motorists hard in the capital city as petrol pumps observed a day-long shutdown to protest the Delhi government’s tax increase on diesel.

‘All our 408 outlets across Delhi will remain closed every Monday,’ president of the Delhi NCR Petrol Dealers Association Ajay Bansal told IANS.

On April 1, the government increased the value-added tax (VAT) on diesel from 12.5 to 20 percent, which is much higher than the neighbouring state of Haryana where the tax is 8.8 percent — making the fuel in Delhi costlier by Rs.4 per litre.

‘From 13.5 crore litres a month, the sales of diesel in Delhi have come down to 8.5 crore litres a month, which means a loss of 37 percent,’ he said.

This is the second time in less than two weeks when the petrol pumps have gone on a 24-hour strike.

Delhiites are feeling the heat, many of them caught off guard in the tussle between the pump owners and the government.

‘I had to transport big parcel boxes to my shop but my car’s fuel tank was empty. I didn’t know that there was a strike till I reached a petrol pump near my house,’ said Shiva Chawla, who owns a cosmetic products wholesale shop in Sadar Bazar.

He completed his assignment commuting across the city on an autorickshaw.

While a strike has been officially called by the apex body, individual petrol pump owners claimed that they shut shop to clamp down on overhead expenses.

‘We are having our weekly off and we are not on a strike. The reason is that our profit margins have reduced and we are not able to meet our expenses,’ said Tanay Gupta, owner of a petrol pump on Rao Tula Ram Marg.

The petrol pump owners are miffed and are claiming that the government is not bothered about their welfare. ‘We will go on an indefinite strike from June 19, if our demands are not met,’ said Bansal.

Jitendra Rajput, manager of a petrol pump on Asaf Ali Road, said this was a fight for survival. ‘A difference of Rs.4 per litre is huge for us. Our profit margin has reduced and the government just doesn’t care. We are fighting this battle for the last one year but still there has been no result,’ he said.

The outlets operated directly by the state-run oil marketing companies remained open Monday and witnessed long queues. Similar scenes were also reported from petrol pumps located close to Delhi border in neighbouring Haryana.

Gurgaon petrol pumps saw a rush of vehicle owners filling up their tanks.

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