All dealer-operated petrol pumps in Delhi closed their shutters today to protest the increase in VAT on diesel, which has made the fuel costlier in the national capital compared to neighbouring Haryana.
"We are trying to make the Delhi Government see reason that the difference in rates in Delhi and Haryana was huge and needs to be eliminated," Delhi NCR Petrol Dealers Association President Ajay Bansal said.
Of the 410 petrol pumps in Delhi, only 14 outlets owned and operated by oil companies are functioning, he said.
All dealer-operated pumps closed shop for 24 hours, starting 0600 hours, on Monday.
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 June 14.
Earlier petrol pump dealers had on May 14 closed their shutters for 24 hours to press for their demand.
"The pumps will remain shut on every Monday beginning May 24," he said. "If our demands are not met we will go an indefinite strike from June 14."
Bansal said sales was drying up as differential in diesel price in Delhi and Haryana is almost Rs. 4 per litre.
In June 2008, Haryana reduced VAT on diesel to 8.8 per cent from 12 per cent, thereby making the fuel cheaper in the state than in Delhi where VAT on fuel is 12.5 per cent.
"From 13.5 crore litres a month, diesel sales in Delhi came down to 8.5 crore litres a month (loss of 37 per cent)," he said.
Already "bleeding" dealers were further dealt a body blow when the Delhi Government from April 1 raised VAT on diesel to 20 per cent.
"This has resulted in a difference of almost Rs. 4 per litre in the price of diesel between Delhi and Haryana," Bansal said.
Delhi is bordered on all sides, but East, by Haryana. The increase in VAT has made diesel in Delhi more expensive than even Uttar Pradesh, which is east of Delhi.