Pradeep Singh

The world is recovering from COVID-19 pandemic, but recovery of fuel prices seems to be in a cliffhanger state. Rising fuel prices amid the pandemic situation has adversely affected lives across the country, especially in a state like Odisha.

Though different districts have different rates fpr petrol in Odisha, the fuel price has already crossed the Rs 100-mark across the State while the per litre price of diesel is inching closer to match with each passing day.

Among the Odisha districts, petrol price in Malkangiri now stands at Rs 108.85 per litre while it is Rs 104.07 for a litre of diesel. In Bhubaneswar, petrol was retailing at Rs 103.28, while diesel cost Rs 99 on Monday.

Though the fuel prices differ from district to district depending on the freight charges, such a high fuel price in a tribal dominated district like Malkangiri has attracted sharp criticisms from citizens.

They likened the rising fuel price to adding insult to injury during the crisis situation in which they are in for the last one and a half years. "The unabated rise in the fuel price has shattered our movement and life at large. We now think twice before going out on a bike," rued a resident of Malkangiri.

"I have no words to explain the hardships that the rising prices have caused to us. We urge both the Centre and the State not to push people into such brinks," said Sanjay Singh, a resident of the Capital city.

As per reports, petrol and diesel rates have been increased by Rs 34.73 and Rs 32.32 per litre, respectively since April 2020. Experts opine that the fuel prices have gone up due to the lowering of production by the oil-producing countries coupled with the high taxes levied by the Centre and the states.

In Odisha, the Centre collects Rs 32.9 per litre petrol as tax while the State government collects Rs 24.17 while the dealers' commission is Rs 3.39 per litre.

Sanjay Lath, general secretary of Utkal petrol pump owners' association, said the State should also have a fixed tax rate like the Centre. "If the VAT is fixed as per Ad valorem basis alike the Excise duty, the price would not rise even if it is increased by international oil companies," he said

Secretary of the Odisha Traders' Association, Sudhakar Panda said that fuel prices which increased during the pandmeic to deal with the financial crisis, must be withdrawn now.

To deal with the situation, the government should also bring petroleum products under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) net, he added.