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Chandigarh Cabbies, Auto Drivers on One-Day Strike Against Soaring Fuel Prices

Ronak Chhabra |
The drivers, inspired by farmers to form Cab Auto Samyukt Morcha, will go on an indefinite strike if their demands aren’t met.

Union leaders speaking to media in a press conference, called by CASM, earlier last week on Saturday in Chandigarh. Image Courtesy - Special Arrangement

New Delhi: Cabbies and auto drivers in Chandigarh have announced a one-day strike on Tuesday to protest the hike in fuel prices. Around 40,000 protesters who are members of the Cab Auto Samyukt Morcha (CASM), an association of 10 unions representing auto and cab drivers, will strike work in the tri-city of Chandigarh, Mohali, and Panchkula, union leaders told Newsclick on Monday.

The protesting drivers have demanded that either the fares of autos and cabs be revised immediately to match the rising prices of CNG, petrol and diesel or the hike in fuel prices should be rolled back. CASM will launch an indefinite strike if the administration doesn’t fulfil the demand.

The spiralling fuel prices have also put inflationary pressure on the cost of essential commodities, including edible oil and vegetables, thereby affecting the budget of the common man.

As of Monday, the price of petrol in Chandigarh was about Rs 104.74 per litre, diesel Rs 90 and CNG prices Rs 80 per kg, according to last week’s hike, totalling about Rs 10.

Like in other cities, most autos or cabs (Ola and Uber) in Chandigarh use CNG,” Inderjeet Singh, president, Azad Taxi Union, Chandigarh, unit told Newsclick. “Now, there is not much difference between CNG and petrol/diesel prices,” he lamented adding that the price of CNG has almost doubled in recent years. “After the recent hike, the cost of CNG per day has increased from Rs 500 to Rs 800-Rs 900.”

Vikram Singh Pundir of CASM told Newsclick said that the income of nearly 40,000 drivers has been adversely affected by the rise in the prices of petrol, diesel and CNG. He also criticised the administration and the cab aggregators for not addressing the problems of the drivers in the past despite multiple requests.

Last month, the cab and auto unions formed a joint platform to bring their “common issues” to the fore, Pundir added. “We were inspired by the farmers protest, which gave slogans for unity between farmers and workers. Therefore, we too decided to form a joint platform of auto and cab unions.”

Pundir claimed that Tuesday’s strike will see 100 per cent participation by drivers though autos and cabs for emergency medical services will be allowed to ply to avoid inconvenience to patients and their families. “We also expect the participation of about 500 bikers.”

Anil Kumar of Chandigarh Auto Union said that 26,000 auto drivers will also protest the “harassment by the Chandigarh police”. “The major demand is the implementation of the increased rates, as per the government notification,” he told Newsclick. Moreover, the unions are also demanding that the State Transport Authority collect tax fees from aggregator companies and not from the drivers, he added.

The drivers will hold a peaceful demonstration on Tuesday and a memorandum will be submitted to the administration, according to Kumar. “If the administration doesn’t show any seriousness, we will go on an indefinite strike.

Meanwhile, the steep rise in fuel prices has also forced auto and cab drivers in the national capital to demand a revision in fares. They will go on an indefinite strike from April 18 if their demands are not met.

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