“Aamdani aathannii kharcha rupaiya” is the common man’s perfect caller tune, thanks to the Rs 5.90 per litre jump in diesel prices that has struck a rude blow to his daily mobility.
In Ranchi, Jamshedpur and other cities, students, executives, parents — the whole spectrum of society — are hit by a volley of hikes triggered by the Centre’s upping of fuel prices.
Jharkhand Bus Owners’ Association imposed a 20 per cent fare hike across routes (see chart) with immediate effect.
“I had to shell out an extra Rs 15 as bus fare from Ranchi to Jamshedpur on Friday morning. The bus guys upped the fare from Rs 100 to Rs 115 overnight,” Manoj Kaushik (35), a private firm employee, said in Ranchi. “I have no option. If I bike it all the way, it will cost me Rs 200.”
But, Jharkhand Bus Owners’ Association president Krishna Mohan Singh claimed the fare hike was unavoidable. “All buses run on diesel. We have tried to keep the hike in fares as low as possible in public interest, around 10-15 per cent, on interstate and intrastate routes,” he said.
Shikshit Berozgar Mini Bus Association, under which about 130 mini buses ply in 14 routes of Jamshedpur, announced a hike Re 1 per stoppage to come into effect from Saturday. They either want a rollback or they would remove the 50 per cent concession they give schoolchildren. “We will hand over a memorandum to East Singhbhum DC to roll back the hike. If not that, we will stop our student concession,” said Sanjay Pandey, secretary, Shikshit Berozgar Mini Bus Association.
School buses, auto and carpools across the state will rework rates of ferrying children, straining household budgets.
In Ranchi, there are over 500 school buses, where rates per child vary between Rs 525 and Rs 1,200, depending on factors like distance and school profile. Schools have gone into a huddle to work out new commute rates.
DAV group director R.L. Saini said they were yet to decide on the exact figure but said it might be around Rs 30-Rs 35 per child per month.
Vice-principal of DAV Gandhi Nagar B.K. Singh said they had not yet decided but their bus rates were low. “Our maximum bus fee is Rs 530, lesser than other schools, some of which charge Rs 1,000 and beyond,” he said.
Jamshedpur schools with their own bus services will increase rates. DPS, which runs about 20 buses, said they would hike the fare within a month. “Right now, fares based on distance are between Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,000 per month,” said Dhananjay Pan, principal.
In Jamshedpur, 4,000 out of 12,000 registered autos ferry schoolchildren. Parents now pay autos Rs 250 to Rs 300 for short distances and Rs 700 to Rs 800 for longer distances.
Parents are stressed. Ranchi-based insurance agent Sunil Kumar, with two children studying in DAV Gandhinagar, rued: “I’ll have to pay extra for my children’s commute via school bus and my own car. When diesel price jacks up, it hits everything from vegetables to grocery, as diesel-run transport is our economy’s backbone.”
Autos & others
With an apology of a public transport service in Jharkhand, any increase in diesel price gives autos, buses and trekkers an excuse to hike fares.
Petrol autos in the capital have started charging unregulated amounts. The fare from Kantatoli to Lalpur is Rs 4, but the drivers demand extra. Factionalism in Jharkhand Diesel Auto Chalak Sangh — Lankesh Singh and Dinesh Soni are at loggerheads — also results in unregulated rates.
In Jamshedpur, the “full auto” users will suffer a hard pocket pinch. “If a passenger books an auto, we want a hike of Rs 50 from the existing fare for the minimum distance of 3km,” said Shyam Kinkar Jha, president of Shikshit Berozgar Tempo Chalak Sangh.
In Ranchi: Jharkhand Diesel Auto Chalak Sangh general secretary Sunil Kumar threatened to strike if there was no rollback. His men burnt effigies. Jharkhand Pradesh Truck Owners’ Association president U.S. Ojha said they would drawing up a strategy.
In Jamshedpur: BJP and JVM workers came at Sakchi roundabout to stage separate protests on Friday evening.
In Dhanbad: Janata Dal(U) torched Manmohan Singh’s effigy.