M. Melly Maithreyi
HYDERABAD: Even as the bandh was organised by the opposition parties against the steep hike in prices of petroleum products on Friday, many feel political protests would offer no viable solution rather than disrupting public life.
As prices are dictated by the crude oil exporting countries as per the demand –supply situation, it is little any political party in power can do than passing on part of burden to people. Instead of protests that further inconvenience common man, long term solutions to reduce dependence on imported fuel should be seriously explored, opine people belonging to different cross sections.
S. Galab, Economist, Centre for Economics and Social Studies, says fluctuation of oil prices in international market are serious concern as they have direct bearing on economy of importing nations like India. It is time to focus on bio-fuels by striking a fine balance between food security and fuel resources. Countries like Brazil, US were gradually reducing their dependency on external market for the fuel. Sorghum could be a good source of bio-fuel for India without affecting the food consumption requirements. Instead of a blanket subsidy on fuel, public transport system should be strengthened for which subsidised fuel could be supplied, he said.
Lok Satta president Jayaprakash Narayan says protests on issues which are not under government control serve no purpose except disrupting public life and sometimes resulting in vandalism. Such behaviour by political parties is unacceptable even for a just cause. When crude oil prices increased from 35$ a barrel to 135 $, what can any Government do ? Demanding subsidy at the cost of national exchequer and making fuel prices a political issue is not fair, he says.
Fundamental issues like terrorism, energy security, global warming need concerted efforts of all political parties to arrive at long term and viable solutions. “India is a victim of low indigenous oil production. The solution lies in making a war like effort through national energy fund for alternative fuel resources, reducing dependency on fossil fuels, creating efficient public transport system. Tackling fuel shortage should be above politics and poor could be subsidised through different ways.
Mr. Suvamoy Sen, Vice-President, Technology Delivery in an MNC says oil prices are bound to go up due to scarcity. The popular way of subsidising petrol to protect people has a flip side to it as it will not make people value the precious resource, increase consumption, leading to more imports and more burden on economy. It is a vicious circle, he says. Confining subsidy on petroleum products to poor and low income groups, incentives should be given to companies, evolving fuel efficient technology and more investment should go into R&D and public transport, he says.