Finding Rs 10 a litre costlier diesel than subsidised one as unviable proposition, Punjab government has directed its state transport undertakings to buy fuel from private filling stations.

The Centre had announced dual pricing regime for diesel whereby bulk consumers including railways, state transports will have to pay market rate of diesel which is Rs 10.81 a litre costlier than subsidised diesel, priced at around Rs 45 a litre.

“We have asked Punjab Roadways and PRTC to source diesel from their nearest private fuel pumps as it is not affordable to pay Rs 10 per litre more for diesel (than the subsidised rate),” Secretary, Punjab Transport, Mandeep Singh told PTI here on Sunday.

Singh said that Centre’s decision of asking bulk consumers to pay diesel at market rate would badly hit state transport undertakings.

Punjab Roadways and Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) would have to shell out additional amount of about Rs 50 crore and Rs 35 crore per annum, respectively, if both roadways transport bodies buy diesel at market rate.

Government owned transport bodies buy diesel in bulk from oil marketing companies for refuelling their buses at various depots spread across the state.

As per the measure announced by the Punjab government, state transport bodies will source diesel from their depots’ nearest retail filling stations to cut operational cost.

“Directions have been issued to General Managers of depots to get quotations for supplying diesel from private fuel pumps within 3 km of radius of depot so as to get lowest rate for diesel supply,” PRTC, MD, DPS Kharbanda said today.

PRTC has a fleet size of 1,023 buses while Punjab Roadways has 1,800 buses running on inter-state and intra-state routes.

Describing the Centre’s decision of charging bulk consumers for diesel at market rate as “irrational”, state transport undertakings of Punjab had said that this move would “kill” the public transport services as their operating cost would go up by about 25 per cent.

The state transport bodies had also expressed apprehension that they would not be able to compete with private bus operators which buy diesel from retail fuel pumps.

(This article was published on January 20, 2013)
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