Even as she kept away from Friday's meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers and opposed the hike in petroleum prices, Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee ruled out withdrawal of support to the United Progressive Alliance government.

Replying to a question, she said rail passenger fares would not be raised despite the hike in diesel prices.

Reacting to the decision taken by the EGoM , she said her attending the meeting would not have made any difference as her lone voice would have been drowned by the majority.

Ms. Banerjee said she spoke to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who heads the EGoM, on Thursday night and conveyed her opposition to the price revision proposals. She said she would take up the matter with the Prime Minister to have the decision reconsidered as it would affect everyone right from the common man to the Railways.

Underlining her support to the UPA government, she said that with 19 members the Trinamool was a bigger stakeholder. Her party would raise its voice on an appropriate forum. She would not do anything that would seem inappropriate and would continue to support the government, hoping that it would consider her plea for a rollback.

Meanwhile, senior railway officials said the diesel price hike of Rs. 2 a litre would mean an additional annual burden of Rs. 460 crore, which would further eat into the Railways' revenue that suffered already consequent to the pay hike.

The Railways consumed about 230 crore litres of diesel annually. The fuel bill would now shoot up from Rs. 4,500 crore to Rs. 5,000 crore annually.

With only 19,000 km. of the 64,000-km rail network electrified, the Railways were essentially dependent on 5,000 diesel engines for transporting 1.8 crore passengers every day.


Centre hikes fuel pricesJune 25, 2010

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