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Jayalalithaa flays fuel price increase

Special Correspondent

Says bus fare will not be revised despite the hike

CHENNAI: Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Tuesday flayed the United Progressive Alliance Government for its decision to increase the price of petrol and diesel. She made it clear that her Government would not revise the bus fare though the diesel price hike would mean an additional burden of Rs. 122.5 crores per annum for the State Transport Corporations (STCs).

In a statement here, Ms. Jayalalithaa dubbed the fuel price hike a "knock out punch." Despite the UPA Government's claim of having a human face and promise to alleviate the situation of the poor in the country, it had been heaping additional burdens on the common people, leaving them groaning in misery.

"This is the fifth increase in diesel and petrol prices in just about 15 months of the UPA Government's rule. The diesel price has gone up from Rs. 24.23 per litre before the Government at the Centre assumed office to Rs. 33.72 per litre with the latest increase of Rs. 2.21 per litre. The price of petrol, which was Rs. 33.79 per litre before the UPA Government assumed office has gone up by Rs. 47.49 per litre with the latest increase of Rs. 3.23 per litre," she said.

"The price of diesel is critical for the entire economy. Since it is diesel which powers the country's transportation system, such a hike in the price of diesel by 40 per cent in a period of a little over a year by the UPA Government constituted a most regressive tax. It has fuelled the price increase of all commodities and has crushed the common people."

She accused Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M. Karunanidhi of seeking to justify the price increase. "Mr. Karunanidhi has gone global trying to quote international oil prices for the hike in petrol-diesel prices," she said. He had added "insult to injury" by saying that LPG and kerosene prices had been spared.

Every time a price increase was announced by the UPA Government, it was preceded by a "dramatic preamble" of great pain endured by oil companies and how they had to be rescued. Private refiners had been "getting a bonanza" each time the international prices go up. "If there is a will to protect the common people, I am sure a way can be found."

She also referred to the "generous package of benefits and wage increase" to the STC employees announced by her recently despite extremely difficult adverse circumstances. "It stands to the credit of my Government that the bus fares in Tamil Nadu are the lowest in the country," she said.

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