Maharashtra petrol retailers threaten strike against ‘no helmet-no fuel’ rule

Mumbai, July 27 (IANS) All petrol and diesel retailers stations across Maharashtra have threatened to shut down from August 1 if the state government does not withdraw its recent directive on ‘no helmet-no fuel’ rule for two-wheelers, an association official said on Wednesday.

“For starters, we shall stop buying up or stocking petrol/diesel at the 4,500 pumps in the state, including 500 in Mumbai, from August 1, when the new rule comes into effect,” Federation of All Maharashtra Petrol Dealers Association (FAMPEDA) President Uday Lodh told IANS.

FAMPEDA will on Thursday shoot off letters to all the oil marketing companies of their proposed move to stop buying/stocking the fuel, he added.

The decision was taken at a meeting of all the 25 member-associations from the 35 districts in the state which was convened here on Wednesday to discuss and review the situation arising out of the new government directive.

Besides, the FAMPEDA will follow-up the move by petitioning the Bombay High Court to get the rule struck down on various counts, Lodh added.

He claimed that the Government Resolution on this count is “wrong” since it expects the fuel retailers to perform law-enforcing duties.

“We are not the police, so it’s not our job to do policing or implement the laws of the land. If we refuse to provide petrol-diesel to anybody, we can be attacked, especially at nights when drunken or lumpen elements come to refill,” Lodh added.

Even the people are partly justified in their opposition to the new directive since they cannot be deprived of this essential commodity, especially at odd hours or in remote areas, he said.

“The worst is if we comply, we face public wrath and if we don’t, the government will take us to task for any lapse,” Lodh said.

Instead of being at the “receiving end from all quarters” and risk damage to their properties or injuries to personnel, he said retailers decided it would be more prudent to stop picking up the fuels, seek legal remedy and shut down operations till the final outcome.

On July 21, in a bid to tighten existing traffic laws, Transport Minister Diwakar Raote made the announcement in the legislature of the new rule to promote road safety and save lives lost in accidents.

“Supplying fuel to riders not wearing helmets is seen as encouraging riding two-wheelers without helmets,” Raote said.

His statement had elicited mixed reactions among the public.

Last year, 146,133 people lost their lives in 501,423 road accidents in the country, of which those involving two-wheelers accounted for 144,391 accidents – or nearly 28 percent – with 36,803 deaths.

Among 50 cities in the million-plus population category, Mumbai topped the national accidents chart with 23,468 accidents last year, according to “Road Accidents in India: 2015” report released in June by Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Maharashtra ranked second (after Tamil Nadu) with 63,805 (out of total 501,423) road accidents in 2015.

Alarmed by the growing incidents of road accidents involving two-wheelers, the Mumbai police had earlier announced its plant to implement the ‘no helmet-no fuel’ directive strictly from August 1.

–IANS

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