Recent cut in diesel and petrol prices by the Centre have a little to offer to the common man in the state, as the bus fares have increased sharply instead of decreasing.
It is pertinent to mention that after consecutive hikes in petrol and diesel prices this year, government had slashed petrol prices up to 49 paise per litre, while diesel prices had also seen a huge decline of Rs 1.21 per litre.
The move has drawn sharp criticism from various quarters of middle and lower-middle class groups, who lambasted by saying that the government was playing a game here, where on the one hand they have decreased the fuel prices, on the other hand the state government increased the transport fare (bus) by 3 paise per kilometre.
They said, "Whenever there is a decline in fuel prices, it directly reflects on the bus fare. But, this time instead of reducing it, the government has increased the bus fare, which is affecting a large section by taking a toll on their pockets.
However, a top official of state transport, who is not authorised to comment on the issue, requesting anonymity, said, "When there is a hike in fuel prices, the bus fares decrease. But, since the fuel and bus fare prices have been revised on the same day, they will be effective from Thursday evening. It is most likely that the department will move the file soon and the revised slashed bus fare rates will be out in two weeks' time from now.
Jasjeet Arora, who works in a marketing firm based in Jalandhar, and commutes daily from Ludhiana, said, "For travelling to a short distance, it is manageable, but when one has to travel long distances on a daily basis, it directly affects the monthly budget. Besides, even those who possess a vehicle of their own cannot afford to drive on their own each time, leave aside the people who have no option but to travel in public transport only."
Contacted, Anurag Agarwal, secretary, state transport department, said, "We have a formula according to which we increase or slash rates on a quarterly basis. When there was substantial decline in fuel prices early this year, we slashed the bus fare accordingly. Now, we have increased the prices in April. After this, the next revision of bus fares will only be done in July."