CHENNAI: Stating that the funds-strapped State Transport Undertakings would be forced to suffer an increased burden of Rs. 750 crore per annum due to partial deregulation of diesel price, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to order an immediate withdrawal of dual pricing policy as it was totally inflationary, discriminatory and anti-poor.

If the Centre failed to withdraw the hike, the (Tamil Nadu) government would have no option but to file a case in the Supreme Court, Ms. Jayalalithaa said.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Ms. Jayalalithaa said the introduction of dual pricing policy had led to steep hike of Rs. 11 per litre of diesel for bulk consumers and a staggered increase of 55 paise per litre per month for retail consumers.

Such a short-sighted measure of the Centre would further increase the burden on the common people and aggravate their misery, she said, pointing out that this peculiar policy would mean that the state transport undertakings would be forced to suffer an increased burden of Rs.750 crore in their fuel bill per annum.

According to an official release, Ms. Jayalalithaa convened a meeting on Thursday as the Centre’s dual pricing policy could result in a huge loss to state transport undertakings forcing the State to think of a bus fare hike.

However, after discussing the contingency measures to be taken up, the Chief Minister announced that the government would bear the additional burden of the transport undertakings and to seek Prime Minister’s intervention.

In her letter, she said that as the public transport was catering to the poor, it was neither feasible nor advisable to raise the bus fares to make up for the huge and sudden increase in the diesel price and it was the duty of the Centre to share the burden of subsidy to provide affordable public transport.

The Centre could not shirk its responsibility and pass on the burden of their own financial mismanagement to the States and impose untold hardship on people, Ms. Jayalalithaa said.

The policy perversely allowed super-rich owners of luxury cars, including high-priced SUVs running on diesel, to continue to enjoy subsidy and pay almost Rs.10 less per litre than the state transport undertakings that provide transport to the poor.

She wondered whether the true motive was to protect public interest or to benefit private interest

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