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Transporters' body demands reduction in petrol, diesel prices

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Nov 20 (UNI) A leading body of transporters has petitioned the government to reduce the prices of petrol and diesel by Rs 10 and Rs 12 respectively in view of sharp fall in crude prices in international market and save the road transport industry from an impending disaster.

In a letter to Road Transport and Highways Minister T R Baalu, the All India Transporters' Welfare Association (AITWA) drew attention to Petroleum Minister Murli Deora's categorical statement that the domestic prices of petrol and diesel would not be lowered in spite of fall in the international oil prices.

AITWA Chairman O P Agarwal said the justification advanced by Mr Deora for his stand smacked of a ''lop-sided bias in favour of oil marketing companies'' which, according to him, continued to reel under losses.

''It is obvious that this kind of thinking on the part of the government goes against justice and propriety for all as the consumers of petrol and diesel -- Road Transport Sector and the general public -- are made to suffer to make up for the losses of oil companies,'' he said.

Decrying the government's ''implausible and unjustified'' stand on the issue, he said the AITWA, as a leading body of the road transport industry, would not remain silent spectators to it as it would stifle a most critical sector of the economy.

Requesting Mr Baalu to take up the matter with the Petroleum Ministry and prevent transporters from resorting to a confrontational path, he said there was an urgent need to redress ''our legitimate demand of reducing diesel prices, commensurate with reduction in international prices.'' In its petition, the AITWA also drew the minister's attention to anomalies in collection of toll taxes by private operators on National Highways.

''It has come to our notice that huge sums of money running into hundreds of crores are being charged by the NHAI for entrusting road construction contracts on the BOT basis to certain private infrastructure companies,'' AITWA President R D Bansal said.

The collection of such huge amounts would lead to imposition of heavy toll taxes by these private operators, he said, adding that such a tax was already proving a huge burden on the road transport sector.

The AITWA President demanded that there should be complete transparency about the government's policy in this regard.

''These projects have all along been presented as the Central Government's own projects and lauded as major achievements of both the UPA government and its predecessor NDA dispensation. Therefore, giving these projects to big contractors would mean fat revenues for them at the cost of road users who will be fleeced by the profit-driven private parties by way of heavy toll taxes,'' he pointed out.

Mr Bansal said such a practice should be stopped straightaway.

''If the government itself undertakes this work, it will take into consideration the socio-economic aspects of all beneficiaries whereas private operators may go to any extent to extract their profits.'' UNI SKS MSJ DS1400

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