Forget your carefully-crafted monthly household budget. It will most likely go for a toss with the cost of essential commodities set to rise drastically.
In the wake of the diesel price hike, traders at Koyambedu wholesale market said the wholesale prices of vegetables and fruits, which had earlier dipped due to better arrivals from other States, were likely to go up by Re.1 to Rs. 3 in the next few days.
The increase in the price of diesel by Rs. 5 that came into effect on Thursday night has raised concerns in various sections of the society about its cascading effect on many essential goods and services.
Traders at Koyambedu said some lorry operators to the market had already started demanding an increase in transportation charges by Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 3,000 per trip, depending on the distance covered.
On an average, 700 vehicles bring produce to the wholesale hub at Koyambedu daily. S. Chandran, a wholesale trader, said, “Sometimes, we pay for the return trip of the vehicles that bring loads of produce. This amount will also double and we will have no choice but to pass it on to the customers. If the lorry owners propose to go on strike, we can manage only for a day, after which the costs of vegetable and fruits may escalate.” In the last four years, transportation charges have gone up by 50 per cent, he said.
Meanwhile, the lorry owners’ federation and other transport associations plan to hold meetings to discuss the rollback of the hike, and to decide whether to call for a strike.
R. Sugumar, president of Confederation of Surface Transport (Tamil Nadu), said representatives of All India Motor Transport Congress plan to meet in New Delhi on Monday to decide on an indefinite strike. The State Government must reduce the sales tax of Re. 1 on diesel besides requesting the central government to rollback the hike, he said. “We will have to face a loss of 15 per cent to 20 per cent in revenue per vehicle daily. We plan to hold a demonstration in the city next week,” he said.
Commuters too feel the increase in diesel price will have an impact on the fare of private bus tickets to other districts and states. “I have been travelling to other districts from Chennai for the past 29 years. I will have to shell out at least Rs. 50 more,” said N. Ramani, a resident of Sowcarpet.
He feels that if the ticket prices increases many will opt for trains over buses. “The average train ticket charge to other districts is just Rs. 232. But in a government bus, the fare is Rs. 375 and in a private bus it is around Rs. 500,” he said.
Mohammed Afzal, president of Tamil Nadu Omni Bus Owners Association said that they would wait till Monday to see if the Central government is rolling back the hike. “Otherwise, we will have to increase the fare by Rs. 30 in non air-conditioned bus and Rs. 50 in an air-conditioned bus,” he said.
Tourist taxi owners also feel that they will have to charge passengers more. Apart from diesel costs, the insurance amount has also increased. “If the diesel cost is not reduced in the next few days, we will have to increase charges by Re. 1 per kilometre,” he said.
However, Tata Magic Drivers Association in the city does not plan to increase fares immediately. “We are waiting to see if the Government provides any allowance. We will hold a meeting soon to decide,” said K. Ramanathan, of the Association.