As the general secretary of Mamata Banerjees Trinamool Congress,Mukul Roy opposed Thursdays fuel price hike. As the countrys Railway Minister,too,the hike spelled bad news for him because the cash-strapped Indian Railways diesel bill just went up by an estimated Rs 1,250 crore per year because to the hike.
Railways has been crying hoarse before the government for a while now about its ever-increasing fuel bills thanks to the rising prices of diesel and electricity. To operate its diesel-run trains,it consumes 250 crore litres of diesel and shells out Rs 10,500 crore annually. At current rates,an increase in diesel price by Re 1 means an extra burden of around Rs 250 crore per year on us, said a senior official.
Coupled with the inability to raise fares and also delink fuel prices from passenger fares,the national transporter has been in a tight spot.
Thursdays hike just made it worse,making Roys job harder. He has been looking for various non-tariff measures to make the railways earn some extra money. Earlier this year,Roy had rolled back a Rail Budget proposal to increase passenger fares. Whatever measures we take to make up for the losses,a hike like this one upsets it, said the official.
Railways has been looking for alternate sources of fuel,like CNG and even bio-diesel as a cheaper alternative to diesel but without much success. It also signed a pact with the Indian Oil Corporation for trying out LNG as a possible source of cheaper fuel.
On Saturday,Roy will be present in the governments important meeting on the 12 th Five Year Plan for which his ministry has sought Rs 5.48 lakh crore for the Plan period.