Despite petrol and diesel prices hitting a record high after rising for the second consecutive day on Wednesday, India's Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said it's "a misnomer" to say prices have reached an all-time high.
He was replying to the leader of the opposition K.C. Venugopal, who raised the question in Parliament: "Why are the prices at an all time high although the international crude oil price is not at an all time high?"
Petrol prices rocketed by 30 paise per litre and diesel by 25 paise a litre on Wedneday. The increase pushed petrol prices to a high of INR 87.60 ($1.20) per litre in Delhi and to INR 94.12 ($1.29) in Mumbai. Diesel rates rose to INR 77.73 ($1.07) per litre in the Indian capital and INR 84.63 ($1.16) in Mumbai.
In the southern Indian city of Bengaluru, petrol now costs INR 90.53 ($1.24) per litre and diesel INR 82.40 ($1.13) per litre.
Petroleum Minister Defends Fuel Prices
Defending the fuel prices, Pradhan stated in Parliament: “It's a practice of last two decades that petroleum products prices are governed by international pricing mechanism. We import 85 percent of our requirement and when there is a price hike we have to go by that pricing. That is a market mechanism developed by oil companies.”
He said the government is not considering reducing excise duty to reduce rates.
Pointing to rising international oil prices, which crossed $60 per barrel for the first time in more than a year, the minister claimed that it was a “misnomer" to say that the rates of petrol and diesel have reached an all time high."
“Petroleum price tax collection is a proven and substantial collection for the Centre and the states,” he added.
Common Man Fumes
Although the government has justified the rates and says no immediate measures will be taken to bring the rates down, Indians are fuming.
“Just a year ago I was paying much less for a litre of petrol – INR 75 ($1.03). Now for the same quantity I have to shell out much more and my budget has gone for a toss. With a cut in the salary due to Covid impact I am already struggling to make both ends meet and the fuel prices are just too much," Aman Narula from Delhi told Sputnik.
Rohini Khare, an entrepreneur in Mumbai, where the prices are the highest in the country at INR 94.12 ($1.29), told Sputnik, “I started using car in the times of Covid as trains were not readily available. But taking out the car on the road is so very expensive now with petrol prices rising insanely. I think I will have to go back to catching trains now.”