Transporters too feel the pinch
The soaring prices of diesel and petrol is proving to be a burden for commuters and transporters in Kashmir, many of whom say their monthly expenses have shot up due to the fuel price hike.
Several commuters who spoke to Greater Kashmir said they are spending almost double of what they used to shell out for petrol and diesel and are now looking for ways to save some money. Petrol which was priced at around Rs 75 per litre last month in Srinagar has witnessed a spike and is now priced at more than Rs 85 at present. While as Diesel which used to cost almost Rs 70 per litre last month is now priced Rs 79 a litre.
To tackle the sharp increase of fuel prices, Aaliya Nazir of Hyderpora is now relying on car-pooling with her office colleagues. Nazir who everyday drives down to Sonwar for her workplace says she had to take this step as daily expenses on petrol were too heavy on her pocket.
“With presence of bumper to bumper traffic jams, how can one afford to drive alone and spend so much on petrol every day? Three of us from the office who stay in the same locality are contributing for petrol and using a single car everyday instead of driving our own cars,” says Nazir.
Irshad Ahmad, who also used to drive down to his workplace, says he is planning to either hitch a ride to office from a colleague or else use public transport "at least till the time fuel prices witness some sort of a decline".
“Earlier with Rs 500 worth petrol that I used to fill in my car would suffice me for four days but after the price hike I exhaust my fuel tank in just two days,” says Irshad.
Haji Muhammad Yusuf, general secretary, Kashmir Transport Welfare Association says increase in petrol and diesel prices has hit the transporters who have witnessed a downturn since the 2016 civil unrest in the Valley.
“The sharp increase in fuel prices has a cascading impact on our operating cost which has increased. The entire transport sector in Kashmir is facing enormous losses. This is for the first time in last several years that such a sharp increase of fuel prices have come into effect,” Yusuf said.
Yusuf said the last time when passanger fares were increased in 2016, the per liter cost of diesel was Rs 56. “Today the same diesel is Rs 79 per litre and the passenger fares are the same for us. Increase in fuel prices also leads to an increase in prices of petroleum products which is a burden on us. Spare part companies also increase their prices,” Yousuf said. Yousuf said state government had promised transporters that passenger fares will be set as per the increase or decrease in fuel prices. “But they have not done so. If the government does not take our problems into consideration in one week, we will come out on streets,” Yousuf said.
Bilal Ahmad Bhat, spokesman, Kashmir Valley Petroleum Dealers Association said daily pricing of fuel has made the prices volatile. “Any changes in international market hits local prices,” he said. He said central and state taxes on both petrol and diesel were quite high.
“Excise duty is Rs 19.48 for Petrol while as for Diesel it is Rs 15.33. State taxes for both fuels is also quite high which is 24 percent of retail selling price on petrol and 16 percent on Diesel. Cess on petrol also adds a burden. The government must shape up policies which can keep a check on fuel prices,” Bhat said.
With the central excise duty and other entry taxes, the total tax percentage reaches about 52 percent on petrol and 46 percent on diesel, which means actual cost of a liter of petrol, which a consumer buys for Rs 85 in Srinagar is only around Rs 42.