India’s Chandigarh city restricts fuel sales as transporters’ protest disrupts supply

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s northern city of Chandigarh imposed restrictions on the sale of petrol and diesel at fuel stations on Tuesday after a strike involving drivers of fuel tankers disrupted supply in the region, the local government said.

Drivers of trucks, buses, and tankers launched a three-day strike on Monday to protest a new law that prescribes punishment of up to 10 years’ imprisonment or a maximum of 700,000 rupees ($8,405) fine for those who run away without informing authorities after causing serious road accidents.

Protesters say the provision, which is part of a new criminal law that will replace the colonial-era Indian Penal Code (IPC), can lead to undue harassment of drivers, local media reported.

The IPC, in contrast, prescribes a punishment of up to two years for such an offence. The government is yet to notify a date for enforcement of the new law.

“Effective immediately, two-wheelers are limited to a maximum of 2 litres (maximum value of Rs 200) and four-wheelers are limited to 5 litres (maximum value of Rs 500) of fuel per transaction,” the Chandigarh administration said in a statement on its website.

The curbs were imposed following long queues at fuel stations across the city spurred by panic buying.

A similar rush was seen at fuel stations in other parts of the country, including in the western state of Maharashtra and the southern state of Telangana, according to local media reports.

Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla is expected to meet the All India Motor Transport Congress – a group of transporters that is part of the protest – late on Tuesday evening to discuss the matter, reported Indian news agency ANI, in which Reuters has a minority stake.

($1 = 83.2810 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Sakshi Dayal; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)