Shillong, Oct 22: Angry at the continued increase in the prices of petrol, diesel and LPG over the past few days, the Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) on Friday staged a black flag protest rally against the hike and demanded deduction of tax on petrol, diesel and LPG.
HYC activists holding placards, banners, black balloons and black flags held the rally from Motphran to Khyndailad (police bazaar).
However, they were prevented by magistrate and police officials from taking out a surprise rally in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “We demand deduction of tax for petrol, diesel and LPG by 50 percent immediately”, “Why should the poor have to pay for the salary and perk of the political appointees like chairman, co-chairman, vice chairman and member of so many useless committee/board/commission etc”, and “Why should the poor pay heavy tax to make the rich richer” read some of the banners.
Talking to reporters, HYC general secretary Roykupar Synrem said, “We have decided to stage protest against this unprecedented hike in the prices of petrol and diesel. As on today, the price of petrol stands at Rs 101 – Rs 102 and diesel up to Rs 94 – Rs 95.”He said this fuel price hike not only affects the rich vehicle owners but also the poor people including farmers who are dependent on public transportation.
The petrol price in East Khasi Hills as on October 22 is Rs. 101.72 per litre and diesel is Rs. 94.19 per litre. Price of Non-Subsidised LPG in Shillong as of Friday is Rs. 967 per cylinder.
Taxi fares to go up, affect poor people and farmers
Synrem said is the prices keep increasing without any intervention by the government, the commercial vehicles will be left with no option but to increase their fares and the poor people and the farmers will be worst sufferers.
“Therefore, we expressed our concern against the government’s adamant attitude to the memorandum we had submitted before the Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on October 15 for his intervention as we have not seen any steps being taken to address the plight of the people,” he said.
At the same time, stating that they understand the need for the government to impose VAT on petrol and diesel for taking other developmental activities, Synrem however said, “But if this is affecting the poor people then what made you to look only at fuel as your source of revenue. We feel the government should find other ways and means especially by cutting down unnecessary expenditures.”
He said the HYC has demands the Chief Minister to find out ways and means to reduce the VAT on petrol and diesel adding “If they cannot, the state government should take the responsibility to talk to the Centre to reduce the central excise tax.”
Similar protests were also held in different parts of Khasi and Jaintia Hills.
Meghalaya Govt to discuss fuel price hike soon
On Thursday, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong had informed that the state government will discuss the fuel price hike after the bye-elections are over. “I cannot commit anything right now but the government has taken note of it and very soon after the bye-elections, we (cabinet) will again sit down to discuss this issue,” he had said.
Tynsong also reminded that it was only Meghalaya, especially in the North East region, which has already reduced the taxes on fuel by up to Rs. 6.
Stating that the fuel price hike is something which is not under the control of the government, the deputy chief minister said this is not happening only in India but throughout the world.
He added that the government of India has already warned the international market may collapse.
He further informed that the Chief Minister has already spoken to the Union Finance Minister about the crisis adding “even the Finance Ministry is now working out how to come out with this problem that we have as a nation.”