Amidst protests over rising fuel prices in the country, the state government on Tuesday reduced the price of petrol and diesel by Re 1 per litre. The reduced price of fuel in the state will be effective from 12 am on Tuesday. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced this at the state secretariat, Nabanna, and also asked the central government to withdraw central cess from fuels to relieve the common man.
“The Centre has increased excise duty on petrol and diesel nine times. Excise duty amounting to Rs 11.77 has been increased on petrol and diesel. When the price of crude oil is on the decline, they are increasing the price of fuel. As a result, common people are being harassed. Everyday, prices of petrol and diesel are increasing. A total economic mismanagement is prevailing. The Centre is doing nothing to bring stability. We are demanding that central cess must immediately be withdrawn. Secondly, we are reducing the price of petrol and diesel here by Re 1 for the time being,” she told reporters.
“Our government never increased sales tax and cess in this period so that common people are not harassed. Keeping elections in mind, some states are reducing the price of petrol and diesel. Andhra Pradesh has reduced Rs 2 per litre… Despite replaying a loan worth Rs 48,000 crore per year, we have decided to reduce the price of fuel in the state,” she said.
The chief minister further said that in January 2016, the cost of one litre of petrol was Rs 66.12 and in September 2018 the same is Rs 81.60. “Rs 16.48 per litre has been increased for petrol since 2016. Similarly, the cost of one litre of diesel was Rs 48.80 in 2016 and on September 1, 2018, it has reached Rs 73.26 — an increase of Rs 24.46,” she said.
Too little too late: Oppn
Criticising the government’s move, CPM MP Mohammad Salim told The Indian Express, “This is rubbing salt to the injury and is called tokenism. Too little and too late. On the other hand, the the TMC refrained itself from joining the all-India protest yesterday. It is also behaving in the same pattern as the Modi government at the Centre. It is spending money in areas where is it not needed and in much needed areas the government is so miserly. The policies and politics of Mamata Banerjee is reflected in this.”
Congress MLA and Leader of the Opposition Abdul Mannan said both the central and state governments were playing with the emotions of the people.
“What will happen by reducing just one rupee when prices are being increased every day? Today, 14 paisa was increased in the price of one litre petrol. Crude oil prices in the international market has fallen, yet the petrol price is on the rise. This is just a mockery as it will not serve as a permanent solution,” he said.
‘Good intentions but won’t have impact’
“Fuel rates in India are shooting through the roof with both petrol and diesel prices hitting record highs. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee might have good intentions but it won’t have a big impact on the whole as fuel prices are changing daily. The central government takes Rs 19-20 as cess and taxes. If they reduce it by Rs 5-7, it will bring some respite to people,” Sajal Ghosh, said Joint Secretary of the Federation of West Bengal Truck Operators’ Association.