The Kerala State Petroleum Traders Association has urged the public to join hands in the agitation against the frequent hike in prices of petroleum products.

Blaming oil companies for the escalating prices, R. Sabarinath, State organising secretary of the association, said here on Wednesday that the dismantling of the administrative price mechanism helped oil marketing companies to hike the prices at regular intervals.

Mr. Sabarinath said there was a false belief that price deregulation would trigger competition among companies which would ultimately result in a decrease in price of petroleum products. Instead, the companies hiked the price considerably affecting the prospects of common man, he said.

Stating that petrol was sold at Rs.50 a litre here when the crude oil price for a barrel was $ 148, Mr. Sabarinath said that the petrol price went up to Rs.68 when the price for a barrel was only $ 110. Accusing oil companies of hiking the price of petroleum products in the name of under-recoveries, Mr. Sabarinath said the firms had not arrived at any concrete formula to fix the price of petroleum products. He said the unscientific competition among oil companies had resulted in over exploitation of the people.