“We are addicted to vehicles and pay the price for it”
History repeats itself.
And if the prices of petrol continue to soar at the current rate, history will have to repeat itself, assert Madurai residents who are nevertheless sceptical about their own ability to adapt to the use of now forgotten bullock carts, chariots and cycle-rickshaws rather than the modern motorcades.
The recent increase in petrol prices, the fourth in the year, taking it to Rs. 72.80 per litre (for regular petrol) and Rs. 75.55 per litre (for premium petrol) coupled with the Prime Minister's statement that there should be further deregulation of fuel prices has come as a rude shock to the motorists dependent on their machines for travel.
G. Rajasekaran, a doctor by profession, recalls that he had fuelled his scooter for Rs.8 per litre of petrol when he was fresh out of college in the 1980s.
“From then, the price of petrol has been rising steadily. It became worse ever since the deregulation of petrol prices over a year ago. I do not feel the pinch while travelling in my motorcycle. But it certainly burns a hole in my pocket when I travel in the car,” he says.
J. Anand, a businessman, is a little jealous of diesel car owners who pay only Rs.44.54 per litre.
“I own two petrol cars. They were bought after selling a diesel car that I had earlier. Now, I am regretting for having taken that decision. An increase of Rs. 2 per litre really will not make a difference for people like me. But when you see that the price had been increased four times in a year, then it definitely bothers,” he adds.
Sharing similar concerns, M. Umashankar, a retired employee, says that he and his college going son considered purchasing electric scooters after selling away their petrol motorbikes.
“But you see, even power is a problem in our State. We do not get uninterrupted power supply. We cannot charge the scooters at our will and pleasure. So, we had to drop that idea.”
S. Selvam, a grocery shop owner, feels that travelling by already over-crowded buses was next to impossible.
Using bicycles is the only viable option in view of the increasing prices of petrol.
“One has to have patience for riding a bicycle. Unfortunately, in today's fast paced world, people do not possess that quality.
We are addicted to motor vehicles and so we are paying the price for it.”
Despite concerns expressed by the consumers over increasing price of petrol, R.G. Rathinam, Secretary, Tamil Nadu Motor Parts Dealers Association, says the concern remains just a concern without any corresponding impact on the number of vehicles manufactured and sold in the domestic market. People continue to purchase new vehicles and also use them lavishly.
As per statistics provided by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, 78,97,629 motor vehicles were sold in the country during the financial year 2004-05.
The figure nearly doubled in 2010-11 when 1,55,13,156 vehicles were sold.
The latest figure included 1.18 crore two-wheelers and 25.20 lakh passenger vehicles with the rest being commercial vehicles and three-wheelers.
“My brother-in-law owns a fuel station and he says that his turnover has not rescinded despite frequent increase in petrol price. Motor vehicles have become a part and parcel of our life.
It is difficult to live without them. But at the same time, I do not think the response would be this muted if the Centre decides to deregulate the prices of diesel too,” concludes Mr. Rathinam.