`Diesel at market rate to hit state transport`

Describing as "irrational" the Centre`s decision on diesel pricing, state transport undertakings of Punjab and Haryana said it would "kill" the state transport services.

Chandigarh: Describing as "irrational" the Centre`s decision on diesel pricing, state transport undertakings of Punjab and Haryana on Friday said it would "kill" the state transport services as government undertakings will have to pay around Rs 10 more per litre of diesel compared to private bus operators.

State roadways undertakings, which run their own filling stations for refuelling government buses operating on intra-state and inter-state routes transporting the common man, would be hit as their operating cost would go up by about 25 per cent, they said.

Punjab has two government owned bus services - Punjab Roadways and PRTC, while neighbouring Haryana runs Haryana Roadways. Both the states run various types of buses, including ordinary and super luxury Volvo and Mercedes` buses.

The three government bus operators do not buy diesel from private filling stations. The three purchase diesel in bulk for refilling of their buses at various depots spread across the two states.

Asking the Centre to reconsider the decision, the state transport authorities even threatened to switch over to private fuel pumps rather than buying directly in bulk from oil marketing companies.

The Centre yesterday announced dual pricing regime for diesel whereby bulk consumers including railways, state transports will have to pay market rate of diesel which is Rs 10.81 a litre is costlier than subsidised diesel which is priced at around Rs 45 a litre.

State owned buses will get diesel at the market price of around Rs 55 per litre as compared with private bus operators who would get diesel at around Rs 45 per litre.

"Diesel at market rate for state transport authorities is
completely an irrational move by the Centre. It will make the public transport services completely unviable as market rate pricing of diesel will raise our cost by 25 per cent," PEPSU Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) MD, DPS Kharbanda told PTI.

Having a fleet size of 1,023 buses, PRTC has pegged fuel cost to jump by Rs 3.6 crore per month because of diesel being priced at market rate. PRTC buys diesel to the tune of Rs 40 lakh per day from PSU Indian Oil.

Punjab Roadways, which also operates in Punjab and other Northern state, has found higher cost of diesel unfeasible and asked the Centre to reconsider this decision. "If Centre does not review its move, we will have to look at other options such as buying diesel from private fuel pumps," Punjab Roadways, Director, SS Gurjar said.

Punjab Roadways with a fleet size of 1,800 buses has projected its fuel cost to go up by over Rs 3.75 crore per month due to higher rate of diesel.

Haryana Transport authority also said market rate of diesel will put an additional burden on their operations. "Yes there will be an extra burden (on public transport)," Haryana Transport, Director General, Arun Kumar said. Haryana transport operates 3,402 buses across the state and neighbouring states and it runs 10.32 lakh km per day.