The central government’s decision to deregulate diesel price and subsequent cut in the price of diesel by Rs 3.37 per litre has brought some relief to the farming community, however, kisan (farmer) unions have expressed their apprehension over linking domestic diesel price with the international oil prices.
Reacting sharply to the Centre’s decision, Border Area Kisan Sangarsh Committee president Rattan Singh Randhawa said: “While the slash in diesel price is a welcome step, the decision to deregulate price may not work in the interest of the farming community.”
“Under new arrangement, Indian oil companies will have the final say in increasing or decreasing the price of diesel in the domestic market. Though the government says the fluctuation in diesel price will be vis-à-vis international price, the question is — will the Indian companies be abide by this rule,” questioned Randhawa.
The kisan leader pointed out that the “deregulation system always works against the interests of the people”. Past experiences had shown that the government rarely interferes with the pricing policy of private players, he claimed.
Randhawa contended that sugar price remained under control till the deregulation regime began. “Have the sugar prices ever come down under the deregulation regime and has the government ever done anything to check the private players from increasing the prices,” he asked while expressing fears that something similar may happen in the case of diesel too.
He pointed out that oil companies would never going to oblige farmers by selling diesel to them at subsidised rates. The sole motive of such companies was to earn profits, he added, while pointing out the powerful sugar lobby of Maharashtra always had a final say in determining the sugar price.
“Even in the deregulation system, the government should step in to provide diesel at subsidised rates to farmers. Diesel is an essential commodity for farmers not just for use in tractors or other various farming operations, but also in generator sets for pumping out groundwater,” he added.
He said any increase in diesel price would only increase the input cost of farmers. “Farming has already become a non-profitable venture for many, due to high input costs and faulty pricing policy of the government,” he added.
Chawla wants CM to slash bus fares
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla has demanded that the state government to lower bus fares in view of the slash in diesel price.
In a letter addressed to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, she pointed out that in the past whenever diesel price had increased, the bus fares were hiked too. “Now will the CM slash bus fares as the diesel price had fallen too,” she asked.
In the letter, she pointed out that the truck operators in Himachal Pradesh (HP) had agreed to lower freight charges by 25 paise per km. “The truck operators of Punjab will definitely follow their HP counterparts, but only if the Punjab government shows the way and cuts the bus fares,” she said.
“If bus fares are lowered, the people of Punjab will feel the impact immediately,” she added.