Hike for bulk users will devastate public transport: Ashok

Home Minister R. Ashok has slammed the Union government’s decision to hike the price of diesel by Rs. 11 for bulk consumers of the fuel such as State-owned road transport corporations.

Speaking to The Hindu on Friday, he said he did not see logic in the decision to put more pressure on State-owned public transport while sparing private operators. “There is no way the [public transport] system can sustain itself with this recent hike. The Railways too will be hit very hard,” he said.

Calling for an immediate rollback, Mr. Ashok also said he would write to the Union government to register the State’s protest. “Bus and rail are the common man’s transport. With this recent hike, we will be forced to hike fares by at least 25 per cent,” he said.

Principal Secretary for Transport P. Ravikumar said the hike will result in an added cost burden of at least Rs. 600 crore per annum on the four road transport corporations in the State.

Describing the step as “retrograde”, H.V. Ananthasubba Rao, general secretary of the KSRTC Staff and Workers’ Federation, said the Union government is trying to destroy public sector transport companies. He also said that the prices of diesel should not just be rolled back but a further subsidy should be provided to these government-owned entities to enable them to provide service to the masses.

K. Radhakrishna Holla, general secretary of the Bangalore Tourist Taxi Owners’ Association, said in a release that there are plans to hike the per kilometre rate of premium taxis by Rs. 5 and economy vehicles by Rs. 2.5.

Mr. Holla also said the State government should rollback the taxes imposed by it, which make fuel even more expensive in Karnataka compared to neighbouring States such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu.