Price spike leads to sharp dip in Karnataka’s diesel intake | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: With an exponential rise in retail prices of petrol and diesel, fuel consumption in Karnataka is witnessing a sharp decline. The fall in demand for diesel is expected to have a negative impact, especially on goods and passenger transportation, distressing the sectors.
The state on average consumes 560 kilolitres (kl) of automotive fuels a month, of which diesel accounts for 75%. According to Akhila Karnataka Petroleum Dealers’ Federation, cumulative consumption of petrol and diesel has plummeted to 360kl in February. Federation representatives anticipate another 15% dip in March if the same trend continues.
“We want both the Centre and the state government to come up with some urgent measures to arrest this fall. Otherwise, diesel consumption, in particular, may see a drastic dip next month, while petrol consumption may flatten,” said KM Basave Gowda, president of the federation.
While retail price of diesel has seen an increase of Rs 20 per litre since March last year, it spiked from Rs 78.27 in January first week to Rs 86.21 on February 26. This increased fuel cost of transporters beyond viability and about 40% of 4 lakh trucks have been off the road. GR Shanmugappa, president of Karnataka State Lorry Owners and Agents Association, said the fuel cost of a truck that consumes about 150 litres a day covering about 400km on average has increased from Rs 18 per km in March last year to Rs 29 per km in February 2021.
“Ironically, truck owners are not in a position to hike freight charges proportionately since the market is in distress, thanks to the economic slowdown and low demand. Hence, more than 40% of trucks are not plying. This is one of the main reasons for decline in diesel consumption,” said Shanmugappa.
Other bulk consumers of diesel are owners of tourist vehicles such as buses and taxi operators, and they too are bearing the brunt. According to K Rajavarma Ballal, president of Karnataka State Bus Owners Federation, more than 45% of 18,000 buses run by private operators in Karnataka have been off-road. K Radhakrishna Holla, president of Karnataka State Travel Operators Association, said about 9,000 of 3.5 lakh taxis are not running.
Skyrocketing diesel prices have cast a shadow even on the agriculture sector, as most irrigation pump sets running on diesel have been switched off by ryots. Farmer leaders have urged the state government to introduce a special fuel subsidy scheme meant for irrigation pump sets and they are expecting an announcement to this effect in the state budget.
The main concern, however, is the cascading effect of diesel price on rates of food and other commodities. “The current scenario has led to unwanted inflation as RBI had warned. We only hope that the government takes the point,” said BDA Satya Babu Bose, director of Centre for Rural Studies.
Truckers threaten indefinite stir from March 15
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Truck owners have threatened to go an indefinite strike from March 15 if the Centre fails to consider their demands.
A section of truck drivers on Friday staged a oneday strike across the state, opposing rise in diesel prices and pressing for their other demands. However, the strike call evoked a mixed response.
GR Shanmugappa, general secretary, Southzone Motor Transporter’s Welfare Association, who led the protest on Bengaluru-Tumakuru Road, said: “Continuous increase in diesel and petrol prices has hit the freight transport industry, but the government has not taken any action despite several petitions. If they continue to ignore us, then we will go on an indefinite strike from March 15.”
Truckers say they are struggling due to increasing diesel prices, toll charges, insurance premium, scrapping policy, e-way bill, green tax, BS-VI vehicle cost and cost of spare parts. “Due to Covid-19, there have been fewer loads to transport since last April. Generating revenue has become difficult and we are struggling to pay vehicle EMIs,” said Shanmugappa.
Shanmugappa said that it is increasingly getting difficult to operate vehicles at such a huge cost. “Toll charges are also increasing and new toll gates are being added. The scrapping policy and the green tax being introduced by the government will only force many small vehicle operators to leave the industry,” he added.



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Sagar Biswas

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