With petrol prices crossing Rs 90 per litre in 10 districts in Maharashtra on Monday, residents in the rural parts are facing the heat, having to cut down other expenses to deal with the sharp rise in fuel bills.
Vishnu Dhone, a driver from Dahegon in Jintur teshil in Parbhani, said his profit margin from running a private transport vehicle has dipped over the past few months.
“I do two rounds from Dahegaon to Jintur daily with a private car. Around six months ago, it required diesel worth Rs 300 per day, but it has gone up to Rs 500 now. I earn Rs 1,000 daily but I am not able to increase the fare as the number of passengers has already reduced,” said Dhone, 30, adding that people are not traveling much.
Nathrao Karad, a farmer from Injegaon village in Beed, said that the cost of transporting labour has risen due to the rise in fuel prices. “We transport farm labourers from Parli to Injegaon for work. Earlier, autos charged Rs 400 but we are now giving Rs 550 per day. And the auto driver is still not satisfied and is demanding Rs 600,” said Karad.
He further said the cost of transporting the vegetables to Pune has also increased, with farmers having to bear the burden without any gains.
Other farmers said they have cut down expenses on farming. “I used to spend around Rs 15,000 on diesel for spraying various chemicals during the initial days of the grapes and pomegranates. The cost has now gone up to Rs 20,000 per month. So, to deal with it, I have now reduced the number of sprayings,” said Kiran Wagh, a farmer from Satana in Nashik. Wagh has a 5.5-acre grape orchard and two acres of pomegranate trees.
Fuel prices have been on a rise since mid-August, rising almost every day due to a combination of a drop in rupee value against the US dollar and the rise in crude oil prices.
Maharashtra has 25 per cent value-added tax (VAT) on petrol in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, and 26 per cent in the rest of the state, in addition to a surcharge of Rs 9 for a litre across the state. For diesel, the VAT is 21 per cent in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai, and 22 per cent in rest of the state, with a surcharge of Rs 1 for a litre across the state.
On Monday, the Karnataka government cut petrol and diesel prices by Rs. 2 per litre. Earlier, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Rajasthan cut fuel prices by Rs. 2, Rs. 1 and Rs. 2.5 per litre respectively.