The steep rise in fuel prices in India has hit hard people, especially from the middle class.
Rising country’s crude oil bills, depreciation of the rupee, persisting trade war tensions in the global market, and other factors have been rapidly pushing the fuel prices to move up in the country for the past two to three months.
Diesel prices were seen ruling at Rs 73.87 while petrol prices were seen at Rs 82.22, a litre in India’s capital city New Delhi on Thursday (20).
Petrol prices in New Delhi have moved up by 15.4 per cent so far this year from Rs 69.97 as on January 1, 2018, whereas diesel prices moved rapidly by 22 per cent since January 1 when it was trading at Rs 59.70 a litre.
Many Indians are switching off air conditioners in cars and going to gas pumps across state borders in a bid to save money, as petrol prices across the country hover at record-high levels.
Protests against high petrol and diesel prices paralysed many parts of India earlier this month, shutting businesses, government offices and schools. The government blamed the high pump prices on the rising cost of crude oil and a weakening rupee.
Kalyan Chakrabarty, a 39-year old cab driver in the eastern state of Odisha, said he switches off his car’s air conditioner intermittently while travelling so that he can save ‘one or two litres’ of fuel.
For 42-year-old Brij Nandan from Delhi, abandoning his scooter for a bicycle was the only option.
“My fuel bills kept rising steadily and once it crossed Rs 2,000 (£20.94) a month, I could no longer afford to ride a scooter,” said Nandan, who supports a family of five.
Fuel prices are not uniform across the country due to various state taxes.
Anirudha Bora, a truck owner from the northeastern Indian city of Guwahati, says he crosses the state border to save money.
“I drive across the road to Meghalaya state. I save about Rs 400 (£4.19) when I fill 100 litres of fuel,” Bora told Reuters.
States such as Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal this week cut taxes on fuel to reduce the burden, but the federal government has so far not done so.
Taxes on petrol and diesel, which account for more than a third of retail fuel prices, are one of the biggest sources of income for state and central governments.