: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Saturday wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Veerappa Moily, making out a strong case for diesel subsidy for public transport utilities.

Mr. Chandy, expressing the State’s concern at the Centre’s decision to deregulate the price of diesel sold to bulk consumers, said the decision to deregulate diesel prices was unjustified. “While there was no reason to change the decision on deregulation of prices of petrol and diesel used by car owners, there was certainly a case for keeping prices low for diesel that is used for public transport. Encouraging more people to use public transport this way was another measure for efficient use of petroleum products,” he said.

He called for the Prime Minister’s intervention to bring about a rollback of the decision to de-regulate diesel prices for bulk consumers. If that was not possible, the Centre should at least consider exempting public utility services such as Railways and State Road Transport Corporations from the hike.

He said Kerala State Road Transport Corporation would have to incur an additional burden of Rs.180 crore on diesel alone following the hike in prices.

“The RTC would have no option but to increase fares or seek an equivalent subsidy from the State government. This would annul the intention of curtailing government subsidies by shifting the same from the Union government to the State governments,” he said.

He said while there was a need to maintain fiscal balance and curtail subsidies, care should be taken to ensure that such reduction in subsidies was not brought all of a sudden and in a way that put an unbearable burden on the most vulnerable sections of society.

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