Diesel crosses Rs 100-mark in six Bengal districts
Diesel prices broke the psychological barrier of Rs 100 a litre in at least six Bengal districts, the hike triggering panic among farmers, traders and tour operators who demanded central intervention to soften the blow.
A litre of diesel is now selling for Rs 100.08 in Cooch Behar, Rs 100.17 in Alipurduar, Rs 100.29 in Darjeeling, Rs 100.14 in Purulia, Rs 100.16 in Nadia and Rs 100.03 in Murshidabad:
"The hike in diesel price will push inflation at a time people are bearing the brunt of the pandemic-induced loss of income,” said a member of West Bengal Petroleum Dealers' Association.
The price of petrol had crossed three digits in July.
Sources in the association said diesel price crossed Rs 100 for the first time in Purulia’s Jhalda on Friday. Till Saturday evening, it was over Rs 100 in five more districts, Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Darjeeling, Nadia and Murshidabad.
“Fuel price includes freight charges plus other taxes levied by the Centre and states, hence price of petro products is higher in remote and interior areas. It is a matter of time before the Rs 100-plus diesel reaches Calcutta,” said another member of the association. .
Sources said farmers will be the hardest hit as power tillers, crop harvesters and vehicles used to carry yields run on diesel. “In addition to our movement against the three farm laws, we now request people from all sections of society to raise their voice against the Centre’s decision to hike the price of diesel. It is a question of our survival,” said Amal Haldar, state secretary of the All-India Kisan Sabha.
Private tour operators as well as public transporters are also worried about making ends meet.
“Now that diesel price is up, we have to bear losses as we can’t ask clients to pay extra as the rates are fixed at the time of booking,” said Subrata Majumdar, a transporter in Siliguri.
Some public transport operators hoped the state government would now hike bus fares.
“The number of passengers has gone down since the pandemic began. Now, if the state does not hike fares, it would be impossible for us to run buses,” said a bus owner in Birbhum.
Tourists also complained of being overcharged.
Nisith Ghosh of Barrackpore in North 24-Parganas, who arrived in Siliguri by bus on Saturday morning with his family, said he had to part with Rs 6,000 to reach Darjeeling.
“The rise in price of diesel has pushed our travel budget to an extreme,” he said.