Delhi petrol pumps down shutters over VAT hike

Vehicle owners in Delhi who lacked the foresight to fill up their tanks on Sunday may have to use public transport today, as all dealer-operated petrol pumps in the National Capital Region downed their shutters today to protest the increase in value-added tax (VAT) on diesel, which has made the fuel costlier here than in neighbouring Haryana.

"We are trying to make the Delhi government see reason that the difference in rates in Delhi and Haryana is huge and needs to be eliminated," Delhi NCR Petrol Dealers Association President Ajay Bansal said in New Delhi.

Of the 410 petrol pumps in Delhi, only 14 outlets owned and operated by oil companies are functioning, he said. All dealer-operated pumps have closed shop for 24 hours from 6:00 am today.

Bansal said the pump dealers will down shutters every Monday and if their demands are still not met, they would go on an indefinite strike from 14 June.

The increase in VAT on diesel from 12.5 per cent to 20 per cent in April this year means that the fuel costs Rs4 more in Delhi than in Haryana. Dealers are saying that diesel sales have dipped by more than 40 per cent in the capital because of the increase. ''Motorists are getting their vehicles filled in NCR towns such as Gurgaon and Faridabad," said a dealer.

He added that a day off every week will also help them in cutting costs. Earlier on 14 May, petrol pump owners had closed their shutters for 24 hours pressing for a rollback in VAT rates.