As petrol prices in India surged over Rs 100, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday blamed his predecessors for the skyrocketing fuel prices. He claimed that if the previous governments had focussed on reducing the country’s energy import dependence, the middle class would not have been this burdened today, PTI reported.
“Can a diverse and talented nation like ours be so energy import dependent,” the prime minister asked while addressing an online event to inaugurate oil and gas projects in poll-bound Tamil Nadu. “I do not want to criticise anyone but I want to say, had we focused on this subject much earlier, our middle-class would not be burdened.”
Meanwhile on Thursday, oil marketing companies hiked fuel prices for the tenth consecutive day, as petrol and diesel became costlier by 34 paise and 32 paise, respectively, according to the Hindustan Times. Following the latest spike, petrol was priced at Rs 89.88 per litre in Delhi, while diesel cost Rs 80.27 per litre. In Rajasthan’s Sri Ganganagar town, petrol cost Rs 100.47 per litre, while diesel was priced at Rs 92.45 a litre. Prices of petrol with additives had breached the Rs 100-mark for the first time in parts of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh earlier this week.
Opposition parties, including the Congress, have blamed the Modi government for the exorbitant fuel prices, by raising taxes to scoop out the benefit repeated from international oil rates plunging to a two-decade low in April and May. While global rates have rebounded with a pick up in demand, the government has not restored the taxes, which are at a record high.
As per an analysis by BloombergQuint, the key factor for costlier petrol and diesel are taxes that account for about 55% to 60% of what consumers pay at the petrol pump. In the last year, the two fuels have turned costlier by Rs 17.35 and Rs 15 a litre, respectively.
Modi, however, claimed that his government was “sensitive to the concerns of the middle class”. That is why India is now increasing the focus on ethanol to help farmers and consumers, he said. “Ethanol extracted from sugarcane is being doped in petrol to reduce the requirement of imports,” the prime minister added. “Currently, 8.5% of petrol is ethanol and this proportion is targeted to be raised to 20% by 2025, helping cut imports as well as give farmers an alternate source of income.”
Modi said the focus now was also towards using renewable sources of energy, and that by 2030, 40% of all energy will be generated from green energy sources.
India is looking to reduce energy import dependence through capacity building, the prime minister said. “In 2019-20, we were fourth in the world in [oil] refining capacity. About 65.2 million tonnes of petroleum product have been exported,” he added. “This number is expected to rise even further.”
Also, Indian firms have ventured overseas in the acquisition of oil and gas assets, which provide energy security, Modi said, adding that the nation is looking to build a natural gas pipeline grid to boost usage of the environment-friendly fuel that would help cut carbon emissions.