PM inaugurates Bathinda refinery; hints at fuel price hike
Brace up for a hike in fuel prices, likely to be announced anytime soon. In a clear indication that a hike in prices of petroleum products was round the corner, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India needs to rationalise the prices of petroleum products while insulating the common man from its effects.punjab Updated: Apr 29, 2012 15:15 IST
Brace up for a hike in fuel prices, likely to be announced anytime soon.
In a clear indication that a hike in prices of petroleum products was round the corner, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said India needs to rationalise the prices of petroleum products while insulating the common man from its effects.
The Prime Minister, who dedicated the country's 24th oil refinery - the Rs 21,500-crore Guru Gobind Singh refinery in Punjab's Bathinda district - to the nation on Saturday, said: "We need to rationalise prices and at the same time ensure that the poor and needy are shielded from the effects of such a rationalisation."
He said with imports accounting for about 80% of India's crude oil requirements, spiralling oil prices in the international markets had put a serious strain on the country's import bill.
He said in order to insulate the common man from the impact of rising oil prices, the government has been shouldering a sizeable portion of the burden by pricing diesel, kerosene and domestic LPG below their market prices.
State-owned oil companies have not raised diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene rates for almost a year despite a steep increase in the cost of raw material - crude oil.
Even in case of petrol, where the government had in June 2010 freed prices from its control, state-owned oil companies have not been able to raise prices because of political pressure. Petrol, priced at Rs 65.64 a litre in Delhi, is about Rs 9 short of its cost.
'Refinery will boost growth'
Unveiling the plaque to formally inaugurate the 9 million-metric tonne capacity Guru Gobind Singh oil refinery in Bathinda district's Phulokhari village, the prime minister said it would propel Punjab's economic growth.
Spread across 2,400 acres, the refinery is located some 40 km from Bathdina city.
The PM said the project was a leap forward in Punjab's industrial development."Right from the beginning of the joint venture of the Rs 21, 500 crore refinery, between Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Mittal Energy Investment Limited (MEL), the Congress-led UPA government has been closely monitoring the progress of the mega project," he said, in chaste Punjabi.
"After our government came to power at the Centre in 2004, we have been making all possible efforts to ensure the competition of the project well in time. I am happy to share that the central government kept all its promises to make the joint venture of the HPCL and MEL a success."
'Punjab has fallen behind'
Expressing concern over Punjab's development curve, the prime minister said the state was the architect of the green revolution in the country. The state's hard-working farmers made it possible for it to achieve excellence in agriculture, he said.
Even in the small-scale industrial sector such as cycles and hosiery in Ludhiana, machine parts in Batala and sports goods in Jalandhar, Punjab used to excel, "but not any more", he said.
In the last two decades, the state had "lagged behind" in various fields. It is no more the number one state, he said.
Spelling out the problems Punjab faced, Manmohan Singh said there was lot of unemployment among the educated youth.
The state needs to do a lot in providing "skill development courses" to the young and educated, and vocational courses to students. Punjab has already "lagged far behind" in the information technology sector, which has seriously hampered the state's growth, he said.