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Petrol, diesel prices on hold in poll-bound Bengal; erratic in Tamil Nadu, other states

Mansi Jaswal     March 9, 2021

Oil marketing companies (OMC) kept fuel prices unchanged for the 10th consecutive day across the four metros, including poll-bound Kolkata despite a record rise in international crude oil prices.

In the national capital, petrol was sold for Rs 91.17 per litre on Tuesday. However, in West Bengal, which has assembly elections in April, fuel rates have remained steady. Petrol and diesel rates in Kolkata have remained unchanged at Rs 91.35 per litre and Rs 84.35 per litre, respectively since February 27.

In Mumbai, petrol was priced at Rs 97.57 per litre on Tuesday.

The stability in fuel prices is despite the fact that international crude oil soared to $70 a barrel on Sunday. Brent climbed as high as $71.38 a barrel -- highest since January 8, 2020. It settled $1.12 or 1.6 per cent down at $68.24.

The incessant rise in crude prices is likely to burden the government exchequer as India is heavily dependent on imports. India imports 80 per cent of crude oil and is third in terms of consumption, according to Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell (PPAC). In FY19 and FY20, the Centre spent $111.9 billion and $101.4 billion, respectively, on crude oil imports, the PPAC data showed.

However, in other poll-bound states and Union Territories like Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry, there's an erratic trend in fuel prices.

Since the announcement of legislative election dates on February 26, petrol price has risen four times in Assam's capital Guwahati. On Tuesday, petrol price increased by 22 paise to Rs 87.91 per litre. Diesel saw a hike of 21 paise to Rs 82.13.

While Assam has cut tax on fuel, the Centre has resisted a reduction in excise duty rates on fuels so far, owing to its tight fiscal position because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Chennai also petrol has witnessed an upward trend. Petrol rates have risen by 51 paise in the city since February 27. The retail price of petrol in Chennai is Rs 93.19 per litre and diesel Rs 86.53 per litre.

In Puducherry, petrol price saw an increase of 0.06 paise on Tuesday taking the price to Rs 91.40 per litre. The cost of a litre of diesel has climbed to Rs 84.45 per following an increase of 0.05 paise today.

On the other hand, in Kerala's Trivandrum, both petrol and diesel saw a marginal decline of 0.09 paise and 0.08 paise, respectively on Tuesday. The current petrol and diesel rates in Trivandrum are Rs 92.80 per litre and Rs 87.30 per litre, respectively.

Petrol and diesel prices have been rising continuously since February 9. In some places, branded petrol crossed Rs 100, and in Delhi it crossed the Rs 90 for the first time.

In the 14 increases since then, prices have gone up by Rs 4.22 per litre for petrol while diesel has risen by Rs 4.34 a litre in Delhi. Petrol and diesel prices have increased 26 times in 2021 with the two auto fuels increasing by Rs 7.46 and Rs 7.60 per litre, respectively so far this year.

Meanwhile, on Monday, the opposition parties' uproar over rising fuel prices demand for a discussion on the skyrocketing fuel and LPG prices led to the adjournment of the Rajya Sabha.

Rajya Sabha witnessed four adjournments -- first, around 10.05 am till 11 am and again till 1 pm and then two quick adjournments of 15 minutes each -- before it was adjourned for the day.

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