Decision on fuel price hike likey by next week: Deora

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Bangalore, Feb 8 (UNI) The Committee of Group of Ministers (GoM), under the chairmanship of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, may decide on fuel price hike next week, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gases Murli Deora today said.

Speaking to reporters here after the Consultative Committee Meeting of Members of Parliament for the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gases here tonight, he said the GoM had already met twice during the last month in this regard.

''It will meet again next week and a decision might be taken on the fuel price hike. But, I cannot say whether the decision will be made in that meeting,'' he added.

On centre issuing oil bonds to oil companies battered by the high crude oil prices, he said ''the ball is in the court of Finance Ministry. We are hopeful that they may help us again by providing bonds.'' On change of duty structure of petroleum products, he said Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram would have to do it. ''If there is a need for that he will do that, it is entirely with him,'' he added.

He added that there was no crisis of LPG Shortage of cylinder cOupled with higher consumption during the winter HAD led to a bad situation. ''We had a meeting with bottling companies. They have assured me that the shortage will be overcome in a couple of weeks.'' Petroleum Secretary M S Srinivasan said 10 crore new gas connections were given in the recent months. ''All bottling plants are now working in three shifts and on a 24/7 schedule,'' he added.

On introducing CNG-operated vehicles in major cities, he said ''now only in Mumbai and Delhi vehicles were operated on CNG. Once the natural gas supply capacity is expanded, CNG vehicles can be introduced in other cities also.'' ''In Bangalore, CNG vehicles will ply in the next 36 months. Now, there are 54,000 CNG-fitted autorickshaws here.'' (Eds: pick up from earlier series) UNI RS MSP PDT DB2245

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