Public transporters in West Bengal have always been at the forefront of raising fares whenever there has been a fuel price hike. But with the Centre introducing a dual-pricing regime, where bulk consumers would have to pay market price, it is the state-owned transport agencies that are at the receiving end.
“We belong to the category of bulk consumers. The Centre's decision effectively means we will have to pay Rs 10 more per litre of diesel. It is impossible to run buses in the state,” West Bengal transport minister Madan Mitra said.
The Centre has recently allowed state fuel retailers to increase prices periodically in small doses starting with the increase in the pump price of diesel by 45 paise a litre, excluding taxes with immediate effect. However, bulk consumers buying from installations of OMCs , the immediate increase has been Rs 9.25 a litre plus taxes.
Incidentally, five state-run transport corporations in West Bengal— Calcutta State Transport Corporation, North Bengal State Transport Corporation, South Bengal State Transport Corporation and West Bengal Surface Transport Corporations, fall into the category of bulk consumers unlike the private transporters.
West Bengal government is likely to approach Centre to exempt government bodies for paying market prices.
“Our expenses on fuel will go up from roughly Rs 50 to Rs 60 crore. In the current scenario, the state government has been providing an annual subsidy of Rs 600 crore to the five state-run transport corporations. This will make the situation worse,” he said.
To make it worse for government, public transporters may soon once again raise the pitch for a fare hike. “As reports suggest if the diesel price go up by Rs 6 in 12 months, it will not viable for us to ply vehicles on road. We are not in a position to take the burden of even one rupee hike,” Swarna Kamal Saha, president of Bengal Bus Syndicate, said.
According to, Bimal Guha, general secretary of Bengal Taxi association all the transport unions are mulling to jointly approach the state government to consider a fare hike.
High inflation and slower growth continues to worry Indian consumers
Jaitley, however, cautioned things may go from bad to worse if the country gave a fractured mandate in the ensuing general elections