Prices of petrol and diesel hiked for tenth straight day
The prices of petrol and diesel were increased for the tenth consecutive day on Tuesday, taking fuel prices to the highest level in more than a year. After a hiatus of 12 weeks, Oil Marketing Companies had started reviewing prices daily. The latest such exercise led to the increase in the price of petrol by 47 paise/liter. Diesel's rate was hiked by 57 paise/liter.
Check the fuel rates in major cities here
Now, the price of petrol in Mumbai stands at Rs. 83.62/liter and that of diesel at Rs. 73.75/liter. In Delhi, a liter of petrol costs Rs. 76.73 and diesel Rs. 75.19. A liter of petrol and diesel will cost Rs. 80.37 and Rs. 73.17 respectively in Chennai. In Kolkata, the prices of petrol and diesel stood at Rs. 78.55/liter and Rs. 70.84/liter respectively.
Rise in excise duties behind this surge in prices
It was in October-November 2018 that similar rates were seen, due to a record rise in crude oil rates. The latest hike is attributed to the rise in excise duties, levied by the Central government last month. A duty of Rs. 10/liter on petrol and Rs. 13/liter on diesel was imposed. Meanwhile, state-run oil companies are reportedly suffering losses at nearly Rs. 8/liter.
Respite unlikely in the upcoming weeks
Furthermore, it's expected that the rates will be increased until the end of June, though the quantum of the increase could be reduced. "Global oil prices have again fallen below $40 a barrel and product prices have also decreased marginally. If this holds, there could actually be a reduction in petrol and diesel prices from next month," an official told IANS.
Customers and transport organizations naturally unhappy with price hike
The hike is not only troubling individual consumers but also transport organizations, which were already tackling coronavirus-induced losses. "This will have a debilitating effect on public transport sector which is already under severe duress due to policy apathy," commented Bus and Cabs Operators Confederation of India President Prasanna Patwardhan. He said the hike will go from operators to passengers, and eventually affect the economy.
Price of Aviation Turbine Fuel was also hiked
Apart from petrol and diesel, the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) also hiked Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) prices, a second such increase this month. In Delhi, ATF was hiked by a whopping 16.3%, and will now cost Rs. 39,069.87 per kilolitre (kl). It has been hiked by Rs. 5,494.5/kl. Unlike petrol and diesel prices, which are reviewed daily, ATF prices are revised twice a month.
Congress launched attack on Centre over hiked prices
The hike in rates has also taken political undertones with the Congress demanding to bring petrol and diesel under GST. This move is likely to find any takers in states, which are looking to fill their coffers after suffering due to coronavirus-necessitated lockdown. Reacting on the hike, Congress' Rahul Gandhi tweeted, "Middle class and the poor pay for the gifts the crony capitalists get."
Sonia Gandhi wrote to PM Modi, called price surge "insensitive"
Meanwhile, Congress President Sonia Gandhi wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, dubbing the decision to hike prices as "extremely insensitive". Noting that India is already distressed since March's beginning, she added, "It is the duty of the government to alleviate suffering, not put the people to still greater hardship." She failed to understand the "logic" behind the hike, in wake of coronavirus crisis.