Despite opposition parties slamming the Centre for the latest hike in petro-products, Union Petroleum Minister, Murli Deora tonight nonchalantly shored up the morale of the UPA's decision by affirming that the 'aam admi' will be taken care of even as there was little chance of any roll-back in petrol and diesel prices.
To maintain the "financial health" of the public oil marketing companies, the Government was "left with no alternative but to increase the price of petrol and diesel," Deora said, presiding over the inaugural of two mile-stone projects of the Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL) in suburban Manali, 20 km North of Chennai.
However, Deora reiterated that every effort was made by the Government to "insulate the 'aam admi' from the volatility of global crude oil prices". Accordingly, "no increase was effected in prices of PDS kerosene and domestic LPG (cooking gas)," he said, indicating almost nil chances of any roll-back in petrol and diesel prices.
The occasion was the inaugural at the CPCL of a Rs 50 crores 95-km long aviation turbine fuel (ATF) pipeline built by Indian Oil from CPCL's refinery to the aviation fuel station at the Chennai airport, which will help to reduce air pollution from tank trucks carrying ATF by road, reduce traffic congestion and eliminate safety hazards. It also marked the inaugural of CPCL's Rs 244 Crores sea-water desalination plant, which will help to meet the refinery's water requirements.
Deora, earlier, however, sought to assuage the UPA's ally DMK's anger over the hike in petrol and diesel prices when he called on the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister
M Karunanidhi before the function. Deora also thanked the State Government for its cooperation in implementing these two major projects of the oil sector in Chennai.
While the unique 'ATF Pipeline' was inaugurated by the Union Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel, the CPCL's sea water desalination plant was switched on by the Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister, M K Stalin. The MoS for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Jitin Prasada also participated in the function.
Expressing concern at the mounting "under-recoveries on sale of petroleum products" by the OMCs', which touched Rs 1,03,292 crores for 2008-09, Deora said as flagship national corporate entities, the oil PSUs' were yet committed to "both economic and social progress of the Nation."
The Government was "alive" to the need of the oil PSUs' growth or else the "future energy needs of the country may be difficult to meet," Deora said, in some pep talk aimed to softening the impact of the hike in petrol and diesel prices.
Hailing the 'ATF Pipeline' project as a very important facility for the growing Chennai Airport, Mr. Patel said with the Airport getting a massive facelift now at a cost of Rs.2500 Crores and a new International Airport for Chennai also being planned, this pipeline to safely transport aviation fuel to the airport through Sriperumbudur was a key facility.