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Petrol price rise fuels public anger

May 24: If you are visiting Guwahati and the taxi driver wants Rs 30 to Rs 50 more than the fare to LGBI Airport at Borjhar, do not only blame the absence of fare meters. Blame the government’s decision to hike petrol price as well.

Petrol price hike jacked up fares of petrol-driven auto-rickshaws, taxis and other vehicles by 20-50 per cent and people fear that it could result in an increase in prices of essential commodities.

With residents already feeling the pinch, members of students’ organisations and political parties today hit the streets, burnt effigies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and blocked roads to vent their anger against the government’s decision.

Sahid Ali, an auto-rickshaw driver of Islampur, is unhappy. He had to quarrel thrice with passengers in the last two hours as people are refusing to pay more fare though he had to spend more for petrol. “People get angry when I ask for more fare. But I have no option as the petrol price has gone up,” Ali said while waiting for passengers in front of B. Barooah College.

Public anger over the increase in petrol prices was palpable as members of AASU, Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad and city units of AGP, BJP and CPM took to the streets and condemned the government’s decision to hike fuel prices frequently.

“Increase in petrol price will badly hit the common people and its impact will be worse in economically-backward state like Assam. This will further push up prices of consumer goods and it is because of the faulty economic policy of the government,” AGP leader Manoj Saikia said.

BJP members took a step further and pushed cars on GS Road as a symbolic protest against the petrol price hike.

The taxi operators, too, increased their fares by 20-25 per cent, a move which would burn a hole in the pockets of people using fare taxis. “We have no options but to increase the fares as we have to pay more for petrol,” said Jayanta Mandal, a taxi driver.

Even as retail traders and vegetable vendors are apprehensive about possibility of increase in prices of food items, the Assam Chamber of Commerce, an umbrella organisation of 70,000 traders in the state, said petrol price hike would not increase prices as all the carriers of food items run on diesel.

“Consumers should be made aware that there is no relation of petrol prices with price hike in food items but some traders may take advantage and increase prices citing the petrol price hike,” chairman of ACC Rupam Goswami told this correspondent.