Even as the excise duty cuts on petrol and diesel give some breathing space to the common man on the streets, the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders is still pinching pockets of consumers.
The aam admi is yet to reconcile to the very fact that the prices of cooking fuel have increased by Rs 300 in just a span of one year only. A domestic LPG cylinder used to cost Rs 620.50 in October 2020, but now the price has hit over the roof to touch a high of Rs 926.
What seems hurting the common man is, earlier even as they had purchased gas cylinders at Rs 600-650, they then get credited with a subsidy of Rs 200 under the DBTL scheme to their bank accounts. But when a cylinder's price is hovering at around Rs 1000, the subsidy amount credited has tumbled to a measly Rs 13.95.
"Now, we bought a cylinder at around Rs 1000 and there is no subsidy on it. Earlier, even at lower prices, we availed the subsidy which had given us the elbow room to cook dishes as per our choice. The times have changed. We shudder at the arrival of guests now, said Banajbasini Lenka, a homemaker.
Another homemaker claimed that she had opted for fuelwood as cooking fuel, instead of the LPG.
Not only homemakers are perspiring over the spike in prices of LPG cylinders, hotels owners too are at the receiving ends. Small sized hotel owners have expressed concern over the increase of Rs 266 per 19 kg commercial cylinders, earlier this month.
The big fallout, they claim, is as LPG is one of the prime raw materials, we pass on the price rise to consumers by hiking the food prices. It cuts both ways - the increased cost of food dishes dissuades customers, and at the same time, it affects hotel & restaurant or say the whole catering industry, claimed a hotel owner.
"In order to stay in business, we were compelled to make compromises with the quality of food due to the increased prices. And customers have to face certain health issues due to such scale down in food quality. We are requesting the government to reduce the price of LPG," urged Sushant Samal, a hotel owner.
Meanwhile, LPG Cylinder distributor association has also expressed concerns over the steep hike in the cost of cylinders. People have reduced the number of refills in comparison to earlier days. The distributors in rural areas have lost hope on Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) and are withdrawing from the dealership, they claimed.
"Though the situation seems to be normal in urban areas as the dealers have good purchasing capacity, the dealers who are dependent on the beneficiaries of Ujjwala scheme in rural areas have lost hopes," said Biswanath Mukherji, Chairman of Odisha LPG Distributor Association.
Only recently, the Centre had slashed excise duty on fuels and the Odisha government too trimmed its VAT on the motor fuels. Following which, the retail prices of petrol and diesel have dropped by Rs 5-10 per litre. The auto fuel prices in Odisha's Capital City are today quoted at Rs 101.84 (petrol) and Rs 91.65 (diesel).
Besides, the Modi govt on Thursday rationalised the import duties on edible oil and has cut the basic duty on Crude Palm Oil, Crude Soyabean Oil and Crude Sunflower Oil from 2.5% to nil to keep a tab on the rising prices of edible oils.