New Delhi: All 400 petrol pumps along with linked CNG dispensing units in Delhi will remain shut today in protest against Delhi government’s refusal to reduce value added tax (VAT) on fuels. In view of the protests, all the petrol pumps will remain closed in the national capital from 6 am onwards on October 22 and till 5 am on October 23. Also Read - Namami Gange Mission Most Comprehensive River Conservation Program, Says PM Modi

The protest has been called by Delhi Petrol Dealers Association (DPDA). “There are about 400 petrol pumps in Delhi which also have linked compressed natural gas (CNG) stations and all of them will remain closed for nearly 24 hours in protest from 6 am onwards on October 22 and remain closed till 5 am on October 23,” a statement from DPDA read. Also Read - Rare Pic: PM Modi Once Went Paragliding in Himachal's Solang Valley, Instructor Recalls The Day

The central government as well as several state governments, including Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, slashed fuel prices, but the Delhi government refused to cut VAT, making the fuels costlier in the national capital. “DPDA urges the Delhi government to immediately reduce VAT on petrol and diesel and encourage commuters to buy euro VI fuel and save the livelihood of employees and owners of petrol pumps of Delhi and also save state’s revenue loss,” the statement said. Also Read - ‘Centre's Farm Bills Will Only Help Hoarders’: Mamata Says Will Take Steps For Interest of Farmers

“The central government had slashed the rate of petrol and diesel by Rs 2.50 per litre each on September 4. This was followed by a reduction of VAT by various states including neighbouring Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, bringing relief to their residents. But, the Delhi government refused to reduce VAT on fuel both petrol and diesel resulting in fuel becoming more expensive than bordering Haryana and Uttar Pradesh,” DPDA president Nischal Singhania was quoted as saying by PTI.

In comparison to Delhi, fuel rates in bordering states such as Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are cheaper, Singhania said. Because of the high price in Delhi and low prices in states like UP and Haryana, customers are deserting the petrol pumps in Delhi leading to a huge drop in sales, he added. (Also Read: PM Modi Meets CEOs of Global And Indian Oil Companies Amid Rising Fuel Prices)

Due to the difference in prices, there has been a sharp drop of 50-60 per cent in the sale of diesel in Delhi and 25 per cent in petrol in this quarter, the DPDA president said, adding that on Monday, all the 400 pumps of Delhi will neither purchase nor sell petrol, diesel, and CNG. According to Singhania, the price difference has caused a sharp drop of 50-60 per cent in the sale of diesel and 25 per cent in petrol in Delhi during the current quarter.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also met the top executives of global and Indian oil and gas companies and brainstormed on the emerging energy scenario. He had made a strong pitch for a partnership between oil producers and consumers to help stabilise the global economy. He appealed to the oil-producing countries to channel their investible surplus to pursue commercial exploitation in the oil sector in developing countries.

India, which imports more than 80 per cent of its oil, has been under immense pressure in wake of the spiralling fuel prices and weakening rupee against the US Dollar.

Earlier on October 4, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced a reduction of Rs 2.50 per litre on both petrol and diesel prices after curbing excise duty on the commodity by Rs 1.50 per litre. He had also directed all state governments to slash rates.

With the opposition cornering the government over spiralling fuel prices, the issue has become a major concern for the Narendra Modi government at the Centre as it comes ahead of the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram and also the Lok Sabha elections due next year.

With PTI inputs