Jamshedpur : Petrol pump owners in the state observed a statewide strike on Thursday to protest against the unreasonable increase in value added tax on diesel.
Members of Jharkhand Petroleum Dealers Association (JPDA) called the statewide bandh from 6am to 6pm. The state government hiked VAT form 18% to 22% in February sparking protests from the petroleum dealers.
“We have held several agitations since February. Now we have decided to call a day-long strike,” said an official, of the petroleum dealers’ body. Neighbouring Bihar charges 18%.
Petrol pumps across the city, went dry and shut shop in protest. The increase in VAT has made diesel in Jharkhand more expensive than even Bihar.
“The strike was a success with all the petrol pump owners keeping their filling stations closed. The Jharkhand Government decision to increase the VAT has hit the petrol pump owners hard and they were left with no option but to go on strike,” said an official.
Despite wide publicity given to the strike by petrol pump owners through banners and media reports, many Jamshedpur people were caught unawares. “I had no knowledge about the strike. It was only on reaching the petrol pump station that I found that it was closed. With the fuel tank of my car almost empty, I have no option but to return home and take rest today,” said Somendra Rana, a resident of Sakchi.
Meanwhile, Upender Sharma, patron of the Jamshedpur Bus Owner’s Association said that the strike has impacted the movement of long distance buses.
“Though we were aware of the proposed 12-hour strike by the petrol pump outlets but several buses came from other states and reached city either yesterday night or today morning and due to the petrol pump strike statewide they cannot refill. Due to the risk several buses were cancelled,” said noted Sharma.The bus owners of cancelled buses suffered losses between Rs 2000- Rs 3000 due to the strike.
The strike is total and we want to convey to the state government how the consumers and dealers are harassed unnecessarily with the multiple taxes.
Due to these multiple taxes, petrol-diesel are the most expensive in Jharkhand as compared to others. “Why should the public and dealers suffer on account of the poor administration of the state government? Plus, after collecting so much money, where does it all go,” he asked.