It will happen any time now: be prepared to open your wallet wider this week itself when you shop for groceries what with diesel price spiking by as much as Rs. 6.11 a litre.

With diesel being the sole fuel used for transportation of commodities as well as passengers, consumers are bound to feel the pinch. Freight transporters have hiked their charges by 15 per cent; private passenger transporters are on the verge of effecting a bus fare hike.

Ramesh Chandra Lahoti, president of Bangalore Wholesale Foodgrains and Pulses Merchants’ Association, told The Hindu that wholesale prices of almost all the commodities have risen by 25 to 50 paisa a kg, and, within a fortnight, are expected to go up by Re. 1. He said that traders have no option but to pass on the increased freight charges on to consumers

Oil firms criticised

“We are being pushed into a corner,” said G.R. Shanmugappa, president of Karnataka State Lorry Owners and Agents Federation.

It is strange that the government has reduced duty on petrol and transferred the burden on diesel by hiking its price. Public sector oil marketing companies are thus allowed to make a huge profit at the cost of common man, he said.

The All India Motor Transport Congress, whose office-bearers are meeting in Mumbai on Tuesday, will decide the future course of action, he said and added that transporters will participate in the all-India bandh called by the Opposition parties on Thursday.

Bus travel is set to become costly as private operators in the State have petitioned respective regional transport authorities to allow a fare hike.

Rajavarma Ballal, president, Karnataka State Private Bus Operators Federation, said that the diesel price hike, along with increase in the cost of other inputs, has pushed up operating cost to 92 paise per passenger km.

Before the diesel price hike, the operating cost was about 80 paise per passenger km, he said.

“We too have no option but to increase the fares to continue services,” he added.

On the other hand, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and its sister corporations, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation, North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation and North East Karnataka Road Transport Corporation are awaiting government clearance.

Footing a big bill

KSRTC managing director N. Manjunatha Prasad said that KSRTC will incur an additional expenditure of about Rs. 9 crore a month due to increased fuel bills while all the four corporations together will have to shell out an extra Rs. 324 crore a year.

He said that they are in the process of seeking the government’s nod to hike fares or financial aid in lieu of fare hike.

However, with the Assembly elections due next year, the government will not risk a fare hike, a fact that Principal Secretary (Transport) P. Ravi Kumar endorsed. He said that there is no move to increase bus ticket prices.

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