Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: The Telugu Desam has given a call for an hour-long "traffic bandh" at 11 a.m. all over the State on Tuesday to coincide with the nationwide protest programme announced by the Left and other parties. At a press conference here on Tuesday, TDP leaders -- Yousuf Ali and M. Renuka -- said the traffic bandh was a party programme and the Left and other parties could join in the protest.

They appealed to people to bring the traffic to complete standstill for one hour on June 13. Describing as "eyewash" the one per cent and 0.75 per cent reduction announced by the State Government in the sales tax of petrol and diesel, they demanded a complete rollback. Even after the cut in the tax, an amount of Rs. 58 crores would accrue to the exchequer.

Hitting out at the UPA Government for burdening the common man by increasing the prices of petroleum products on six occasions in the last 25 months, they said the Congress had organised protest programmes when petrol price was hiked by mere one rupee during the NDA regime. But such a steep hike as the present one had never been effected before.

MP writes to Manmohan

Special Correspondent in New Delhi adds: Terming the latest hike "totally unjustified,'' the TDP suggested that the United Progressive Alliance Government structure excise duties so as to ensure that the interest of consumers are not compromised.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, TDP Rajya Sabha member C. Ramachandraiah said besides the above mentioned suggestion, the ad valorem component in the existing mix should be replaced by a single specific component to ensure that tax burden on the consumer does not go up each time the prices of petrol and diesel go up.

He said the Centre levies excise duty on all petroleum products whereas State Governments levy sales tax on them.

For instance, he said, if Rs. 48 per litre is the price of petrol, then the consumer pays more than 50 per cent, nearly Rs. 24 as taxes. Similarly, if the price of diesel is Rs. 38, then more than one-third, about Rs. 13, is the tax component Similarly, he argued with instances of how multitude of excise duties contribute to the overall rise in the prices of petrol and diesel.

A steep hike of these prices would have a cascading effect on the general price line, which would burden the common man further.