Odisha: Capital City Public Outrage Over All-Time High Petrol, Diesel Prices

**Bhubaneswar:** In the past one week, the average office-goer has woken up every morning to a new surge in petrol and diesel prices. Instead of rushing back home each night after a day of tiring work, people have been rushing to petrol pumps to fill up their vehicle’s tank before prices soar up to a fresh high the next day. The new rates have burned a hole in the common man’s pockets and the public can’t stop outraging over fuel prices that have touched Rs 78.23 per litre for petrol and Rs 76.59 per litre for diesel.

Citing international crude oil prices and the falling rupee as the reason, President of Petrol Pump Dealers’ Association Sanjay Lath said, “If the tax on fuel retail prices can be rationalised then the prices can be lowered.”

Giving an example, Lath added, “On an international level when crude oil price came down to 40 dollars, Central government had increased excise duty on petrol and diesel. So, today when the fuel prices have increased then excise duty can be lowered to bring the price down. Why is that not being done?”

“Also, if the state government fixes a value per litre as the tax to be collected on fuel and does not keep it in percentage basis then petrol and diesel prices won’t be affected even if international crude oil prices go up,” he suggested.

Agreeing with external factors being the reason behind the soaring fuel prices, a smart city resident Braja Bandhu Narendra said, “According to me, it is not the government’s fault. It is all because of the international crude oil prices and dollar fluctuations. Nobody can stop this. Common man will have to stop complaining and pay the extra money. Petrol and diesel are essential commodities that people can’t survive without so we have to adjust to the prices.”

However many capital city residents refused to make peace with the ‘external factors’ explaination. One Biranchi Maharana said, “If the fuel prices are in the range of Rs 30- Rs 40 in other countries, then why is India only being affected by these international factors.”

“I believe that here In India, the government is giving false promises and is striking deals with company refineries to trick people. There needs to be an investigation into the case. All the extra money is going for advertising and PR purposes of the government and the oil companies,” he opined.

Blaming the Centre, one Rajendra Prasad Mallick said, “Because the government at the Centre is charging such high tax therefore state is also charging a lot that is eventually putting pressure on the public.”

Another Gagan Panda angrily reacted, “Dharmendra Pradhan, who is an Odia Union Minister, has done everything wrong despite being responsible of the petroleum department. He is now blatantly blaming Odisha government for everything. He is trying to increase petrol prices so that the extra money from the public can be used for strengthening BJP in the centre.”

An office-goer Khirod Sahoo raised a very pertinent question. He mooted, “Whichever party may be in majority, the rising fuel prices do not seem to slow down. Both, State and Centre is responsible for this. If majority of the items have come under the scanner of GST and their rates have been monitored, then can’t petrol be included?”

Another Purnachandra Nanda also concurred with Sahoo’s idea of both Centre and State governments being the reason behind the rising fuel prices. He said, “Tax that is being charged at both the levels is not being monitored and reduced. Thus, all the pressure is mounting upon the common man as financial pressure is increasing.”

Auto-rickshaw drivers who have been among the most affected explained the plight of their tragedy. One Sangram Kumar Nayak said, “Even during these testing times, the customers refuse to pay us extra money. So our expenditure has increased but our income is the same. Naturally, we have been incurring heavy losses since the last week.”

Another auto-rickshaw driver Prasant Kumar Behera said, “On asking for an extra rupee or two, the customer gets into a fight with us that often escalates to physical brawl and eventually the customer pays us the same amount. So from what we earn, 50% goes in fuel, 20% the owner takes and with only 30% of income left, how is a skilled labourer supposed to survive?”

A similar situation is being experienced all across India with petrol rate nearing Rs 80 in national capital New Delhi, and reaching almost Rs 87 in Mumbai. While governments blame each other and cite international factors behind the gliding prices, common man anxiously waits for the toll to fall to reasonable amount in order to breathe a sigh of relief and go to bed every night peacefully.

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