Cracking a whip on all petrol pumps in the national capital, state-run oil marketing companies have threatened to take action against operators who have decided to shut their pumps next Monday to protest against the Delhi government’s refusal to cut value-added tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel.
“Stoppage of sales of motor spirit (petrol) and high-speed diesel from any retail outlet will be treated as a contravention of dealership agreement signed between dealer and the Corporation. If your dealership is found participating in the agitation, suitable action will be taken as deemed fit by the Corporation,” said a letter from Indian Oil Corporation to the Delhi Petrol Dealers Association (DPDA).
The DPDA has threatened to go on a 24-hour strike from the morning of October 22, to protest against the Delhi government’s refusal to cut VAT — which is higher than those in the neighbouring states, resulting in loss of sales in Delhi in favour of bordering states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. While imploring the DPDA to call off the strike, as it would cause inconvenience to the general public during the festive season, the state-run OMCs have argued that a day’s stoppage could “dent the consumer confidence and result in permanent loss of volume and erosion in earnings”.
“We would, therefore, appeal to refrain from joining the proposed agitation,” said the letter from the country’s largest fuel retailer Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), dated October 16. The other two state-run retailers — Bharat Petroleum (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL) issued similar warnings, sources said.
On October 4, the Central government announced a cut of Rs 2.50 a litre for petrol and diesel each, and urged state governments to match the reduction. While BJP-ruled states announced that it matched the reduction by cutting VAT, the Aam Aadmi Party-ruled Delhi government refused to make any changes. While petrol was sold at Rs 82.62 per litre in Delhi by IOC, it stood at Rs 81.29 in Gurgaon (Haryana) and Rs 80.17 in Noida (Uttar Pradesh). On Thursday, diesel rates stood at Rs 75.58 in Delhi, Rs 74.42 in Gurgaon and Rs 73.67 in Noida.