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Every car owner is in a fix

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A LUXURY: Cars are becoming a luxury because of petrol price increase. —
A LUXURY: Cars are becoming a luxury because of petrol price increase. —

Amutha Kannan

A one-day hiring charge for a car has shot up

to Rs. 675 a day from Rs. 575

Regular use of car is going beyond reach

for the salaried

With petrol, diesel and auto LPG becoming dearer, light motor vehicle owners have to dip deep into their pockets to fill the same quantity of fuel at a much higher price.

All three categories of people have been hit. A car that is considered a necessity by those who own it is slowly becoming a luxury item for them. Petrol driven car owners who used to fill up 10.6 litres for Rs. 500 before the price hike are now able to fill up only 9.08 litres for the same amount.

“Before, I used to go for a refill once in six days. Now it has become once in four days. The number of refills has increased from five to seven a month and the monthly expenditure has shot up from Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 3,500,” says S. Arundathi, a working woman , who uses her car like a cycle. “Now, I am planning to use the scooter for shorter trips to the nearby shop or for dropping my daughter in school,” she adds.

A. Arvind, a space marketing professional, who drives a diesel car and spends half his waking time on the road, shares the same grouse. He uses his car and two-wheeler on an equal basis. He too, like Arundathi, used to fill once in six days for Rs. 500. “Now it has been reduced to four days,” he laments. “I am consciously planning to switch over full time to the two-wheeler and restrict use of car only to very rare occasions,” he says.

S. Srikanth, who drives his car on auto LPG laments that a litre that used to cost him Rs. 1.50 a km has gradually increased and now costs him Rs. 3.50 a km. “Between our family members we drive at least 1,000 km a month. My cylinder is of 28-litre capacity. Initially a litre used to cost Rs. 26. Now it is almost Rs. 37. My monthly expenditure on fuel touches Rs. 3,500 a month,” he says. He too plans to commute using a two-wheeler, but for the family outings, car becomes mandatory.

If these are the woes of private car owners, the tour operators too have their own set of problems to contend with. Those operating tours with cars, vans, jeeps and the like have hiked their price. A new tariff has been printed after the announcement of the fuel price hike. Hiring a diesel driven car will cost Rs. 6 a km vis-À-vis Rs. 5.50; while hiring a multi-utility vehicle will cost Rs. 10 a km as against the Rs. 8.

A one-day hiring charge for a car has shot up to Rs. 675 a day from Rs. 575 and the batta charges for the driver too has gone up. B. Maheskumar, secretary of the Coimbatore Tourist, Taxi and Van Travel Owners’ Association, says: “We have come up with the new tariff after working out the cost based on the price of normal diesel. But, when our vehicles go for refuelling, the pump people harass us by insisting we fill only turbo diesel which costs Rs. 2.50 more than normal diesel. We are in a fix. We are planning to take this up with the authorities.”

Every car owner is in a fix. Cars have become huge liabilities. Earlier, maintaining a car was viewed as expensive. But, now regular use is going beyond reach for the salaried. Those who get vehicle allowance from their companies feel that the amount should be hiked corresponding to the fuel price. Some others feel that it would be better if the companies reimbursed the actual that was spent on fuel.

Some really disillusioned ones feel the best option would be to use the public transport, even if it meant wasting precious minutes waiting for the bus and getting jostled in the crowd during peak hours.

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