Oil firms will decide fuel prices, says Union Minister 

Tariffs not connected to elections, says Puri

Updated - March 08, 2022 11:59 pm IST

Published - March 08, 2022 11:26 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri. | Photo Credit: AFP

Amid rising international crude oil prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday said oil companies would decide prices, when asked what impact the crisis would have on India.

Mr. Puri, answering questions at a press conference here, said the government would ensure that there was no shortage of oil and would take decisions with the “best interest” of the public at heart. Referring to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s recent statement urging, Mr. Puri said there was a “youth leader” who was urging people to fill up their vehicles’ tanks as the five State Assembly election results are to be announced on Thursday, anticipating a hike in fuel prices.

“But, see the map of the world and what is happening between Ukraine and Russia…Oil companies will take a decision,” he said, adding that the prices were not connected to the elections and that the oil companies “have to survive”.

“I want to assure you that we will not allow oil shortage. We will make sure our energy requirements are met,” he said.

Asked about the evacuation efforts, Mr. Puri said he was in Hungary from March 1 till Monday and 6,177 Indians were flown back in that time. He said 694 Indian students who were in Sumy, Ukraine, were on their way to a safer location, Poltava, and would then be brought back to India. Mr. Puri, a retired Indian Foreign Service officer, said these efforts were “fundamentally” different from previous evacuation missions of the government due to the conditions on the ground. He said the Ministry of External Affairs had issued advisories to the students and about 6,000 had left Ukraine before the military action began on February 24.

Mr. Puri recounted that some Indians who had fled Ukraine for Hungary insisted on bringing their pets back to India so he called the Civil Aviation Ministry secretary and some air line owners to ask them to allow the same. Asked about reports of Indians fighting in Ukraine, Mr. Puri said he was not aware of any Indians joining the fight and that in any conflict, there would be “mercenaries for hire”.

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