The State government is likely to approach the Karnataka High Court challenging dual pricing of diesel by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in the wake of the Madras High Court granting an injunction on the issue for Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation buses.
Hearing a writ petition filed by Tamil Nadu’s Principal Secretary, Transport, the Madras High Court on Thursday granted an interim injunction till April 12 on the higher price being charged for diesel for Tamil Nadu RTC buses. The government argued that RTCs ferried over two crore people a day and offered connectivity to remote places.
Despite periodical increase in diesel prices, RTCs continued to offer services at affordable rates. Instead of subsidising public transport, the Union government had taken a regressive step, it said. It termed the dual pricing policy arbitrary, unreasonable and unfair, which put RTCs at a disadvantageous position vis-à-vis private operators.
Highly placed sources in the government told The Hindu that if the Madras High Court order had given a final order, the Karnataka RTCs could have cited it as a precedent to demand enforcement of a similar system here.
“Nevertheless, we are studying Tamil Nadu’s plea before the High Court and the interim injunction and are contemplating a similar move here,” sources said.
The four RTCs in the State — Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC) and North East KRTC — consume over 5.27 lakh kilolitres of diesel a year and the increased price of diesel for bulk consumers (by about Rs. 12 a litre) is expected to incur an annual loss of over Rs. 630 crore.
As a stopgap arrangement, the RTCs resorted to buying diesel from retail outlets, instead of sourcing it from pumping stations in bus depots. However, this arrangement may not last long and hence the Centre should withdraw the policy, the RTCs had demanded.