Even after a consistent drop in diesel prices, there has been no respite for end-consumers, thanks to transporters and traders, who continue to profit since the last six months. Prices of some of the essential commodities, including grains and oil, have on the contrary increased significantly.
Take for example, the price of groundnut oil: in August last year, it was around Rs 77 per litre at the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) wholesale market, but stands at Rs 97 in February. In the retail market, it is being sold for Rs 140 and above per litre. Similarly, cost of pulses has seen a rise in the last few months.
The diesel price has significantly reduced by 22%, from Rs 67.26 per litre in August, 2014, to the current Rs 52.99. This means, the fuel cost incurred by transporters has reduced by over 20%.
However, transporters and traders have not passed on any benefit to end-users and have also refused to do so in the future. So, the essential commodity prices that were already high are likely to remain the same, until the state government takes steps to curb them.
Last week, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP) demanded state intervention for reduction in the price of essential commodities, which are generally increased after revisions in fuel prices, citing rise in transportation cost.
Even transporters agreed that they have hardly reduced any transportation costs. Some even admitted that they will not do so in future because other factors such as salary of driver, maintenance of vehicle, insurance, vehicle loan and interest is still the same.
“The other factors such as vehicle price, road toll, labour charge and spare part costs have been increasing. Even state transport (ST) buses don’t reduce their tariff, so why should we?” remarked Prakash Gawli, director of AllIndia Motor Transport Congress.
Sharing the same view, traders in APM), Vashi, said there is hardly any reduction in the cost of essential commodities. “Transporters don’t reduce their vehicle rent even if there’s a fall in diesel prices. Therefore, the cost of commodities remains more or less the same,” said Nilesh Shah, trader in APMC, Vashi.
Varsha Raut, head advocacy and campaign, MGP, said, “There is an urgent need of state intervention to control the severe profiteering by traders and transporters. Now, when the diesel prices are reducing, the transporters are blaming other factors for the steep commodity prices. However, they do not any waste time to increase commodity prices, when there’s even a slight increase in diesel cost.”