The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bid to hike highway cess on petrol

New Delhi, Feb 12: The ministry of surface transport has asked the finance ministry to increase the cess on petrol and diesel by another 30 paise with the proceeds being used to swell the corpus that is being used to fund the Golden Quadrilateral roadways project connecting the four metros — Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai and Mumbai.

Currently, the government levies a cess of Re 1 on both petrol and diesel. Annually, the surface transport ministry collects Rs 6,000 crore through the cess and the funds are distributed to the state governments and the railways that are involved in the roadways project. The cess is expected to generate about Rs 20,000 crore for the project.

“We have written to them and also held a meeting last week with senior officials of the finance ministry. I cannot comment about the prospects as it is under review,” said Major General (Retd) B.C Khanduri, minister of state for road transport and highways.

The surface transport ministry will also approach the World Bank to reduce the time taken to approve projects funded by it. “I am very unhappy with the progress made in the Delhi-Calcutta National Highway-2 stretch of the GQ. The problems have arisen because of the time taken by the World Bank to approve the projects. This particular stretch is being funded by the World Bank,” said Khanduri.

“We have written to the World Bank and requested them to reduce the time taken to approve the projects funded by them. It would be a better process if they adhere to a strict time frame. On our part, we have decided to start the formulation and submission of proposals one year in advance,” he added. The government expects to generate about Rs 20,000 crore through loans from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

LPG deposit to be cut

The security deposit that customers pay for gas connections is likely to come down from Rs 700 at present to around Rs 650.

Petroleum minister Ram Naik said today that the cost at which the manufacturers were willing to supply LPG cylinders to the national oil companies had come down in the latest tender floated for the purpose. “We would like to pass on this gain to the consumers,” he said.

The minister said that since he had introduced the tender system for purchasing LPG cylinders, the cost of purchase had come down. The tender system had resulted in breaking the cartel that was charging a much higher price. Earlier, households had to deposit Rs 900 as security for an LPG connection. This was reduced to Rs 700 as the cost of LPG cylinders came down to Rs 650 with the introduction of the tender system.

Since the cost has come down further the consumers will benefit again, the minister added.

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