New Delhi: The common man has been dealt a severe blow by the government which on Friday announced an increase in fuel prices other than petrol.
While the Rs 50 hike in the prices of cooking gas (LPG cylinders) will hit the common man directly, the Rs 3 increase in diesel per litre would hurt the common man by way of surge in transportation costs and the prices of essential commodities.
The prices of kerosene, the poor man’s fuel, too have gone up by Rs 2 per litre.
Friday’s development came after last month`s steep petrol price hike when the oil firms raised the prices by Rs 5 a litre.
Thursday had already brought bad news for the common man when the government data showed food inflation had jumped to a two-and-a-half month high of 9.13 percent for the week ended June 1.
The hike in fuel prices was predictably greeted with anger from the common man and opposition parties, with the BJP and the Left planning a stir against the government.
"Minimal increase in product prices to reduce under-recoveries of the oil marketing companies (has been decided). The price of diesel will be increased by Rs 3 per litre, PDS kerosene by Rs 2 per litre and domestic LPG by only Rs 50 per cylinder, excluding state levies such as VAT," Petroleum Minister S Jaipal Reddy said on Friday.
He made the announcement after the meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee here.
The minister said the decision was necessary, despite the continuing political controversies that have besieged the government.
At the same time, the government also decided to cut down on customs and excise duties on petroleum products.
Reddy announced there would be slashing of excise duties and customs duties on diesel, which cost the exchequer Rs 49,000 crore. He urged state governments to also decrease their levies on fuel.
He added that while the Friday price hike will decrease the losses suffered by oil marketing companies by Rs 21,000 crore, they would still continue to incur estimated under-recoveries of Rs 1.20 lakh crore this year.
Before the hike, oil marketing companies suffered losses of Rs 13.72 per litre of diesel, Rs 26.16 per litre of kerosene and Rs 381.14 per LPG cylinder.
On a daily basis, Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum, incur a total loss of Rs 456 crore on the sale of the three petro products.
On May 14, oil marketing companies had increased the price of petrol, which have been decontrolled, by Rs 5 per litre - its steepest hike ever.
Kiran Devi, a house maid, was upset over the hike of Rs 50 in LPG.
"I just saw the news on TV. The government has no mercy left for the poor. I have other expenses to look after and with this added burden I will be on the verge of crumbling," said a miffed Devi.
Similarly, 25-year-old Vivek Malik, working in a publication, was equally angry. "On Thursday, Pranab Mukherjee said that the government will do something about the inflation. Today (Friday) they have done `something` about the inflation which has battered the common man in this country," rued Malik.
A major ally of the government, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, said she does not support frequent fuel price hikes as they put immense pressure on the common people.
"We don`t support this frequent price rise of fuels. This creates lot of problems for the people. We have already conveyed our opinion at the appropriate place," the Trinamool Congress chief told mediapersons in Kolkata.
The opposition parties were naturally up in arms. BJP’s Sushma Swaraj tweeted that the decision showed insensitivity on the government`s part. "This is the 10th hike in the prices of petroleum products. Congress government came to power on the slogan `Congress ka haath aam adami ke saath`. This is what the common man has got. This government is totally insensitive to the sufferings of the common man.. The victims are housewives, farmers and poorest of the poor," she tweeted.
The BJP plans protest at all district headquarters against the fuel price hike on Saturday.
Communist Party of India (CPI) leader AB Bardhan said that the decision to raise price will affect the common man in the country. "This is one of the greatest attacks on the common man. Due to the hike in diesel prices there will be increase in the transportation cost. Besides this, increase in cooking gas prices will affect the middle class households in India," he said.
(With IANS inputs)