The maximum impact of rising fuel prices is felt across Maharashtra - a state where taxes on petrol and diesel are higher than in most parts of the country. Left with little option, people at large are either emptying their wallets at pumps or can follow the lead of one village milkman who has traded his bike for a horse.
Such has been the impact of incessant rise in petrol costs in recent weeks indeed that Pandurang Vise reached a tipping point that forced him to deliver milk on a horse rather than on his trusty bike. A milkman in a small village some 100 kilometers from Mumbai, Vise regularly travels seven kilometres to deliver his goods each morning. With petrol at over Rs 80 per litre - and rising, he was spending Rs 200 daily just to purchase petrol. "My father used to do the same job and during his time, walking seven kilometres to deliver milk was common," he tells Zee News. "After his death, I took over and used a bike to deliver milk quicker so that I could address other daily tasks. I have now sold my bike for Rs 22,000 because I just could not afford petrol for it."
Each morning now, Vise can be seen galloping from house to house to deliver milk on a horse he says he bought for Rs 25,000. Caring for a horse, he says, is far less expensive than maintaining a bike. "I spend only Rs 50 each week to take care of my horse," he says.
Locals in the village say they were initially surprised to see a horseman deliver milk but have now seen the practicality of it.
Vise has a wife, three children and an ailing mother to take care of at home. Switching to a horse, according to him, is now helping him save money and that he does not have to bother going to a fuel pump and wondering how much he would have to shell out.
While Vise may have found a novel way of combating sky-rocketing fuel prices, most others across the country are still reeling. There has been a national outrage against rising costs with many demanding either a cut in excise tax or for petrol and diesel prices to be brought under GST. Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday said that the blame should be put on international crude prices. "We have decreased our taxes already but now rates are going up due to rising crude oil prices in international market. So we are trying to make a consensus in GST Council on bringing petroleum under GST," he said.
As on May 24, petrol in Mumbai was retailing at Rs 85.29 per litre - the highest among all metros.
Even oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan has said that he has urged for fuel prices to be brought under GST but has added that the final decision is for the finance minister and GST Council to make.