People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 39

September 30, 2012


Centre’s Move on Diesel, LPG Condemned


THROUGH a statement issued from New Delhi, September 14, the secretariat of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) strongly condemned the highest ever increase in the prices of diesel and also putting a cap with the most insufficient quantity of only six subsidised cylinders of cooking gas for a family in a year. This means the people will have to purchase the remaining requirement at exorbitant price from the open market. However, the same government is giving subsidy in the name of bailing out the capitalist class and heavily burdening the working class by withdrawing subsidy on such item of most essential mass domestic necessity.


The CITU pointed out that this hike in the price of diesel would have a serious cascading impact on the prices of all commodities and result in an increase in the economic burdens on the masses in the country. In a situation of unprecedented back-breaking level of continuing rises in prices of all commodities including food items, this hike in the prices of diesel and LPG cylinders would act as fuel to the burning fire and further increase the sufferings of the people to unbearable levels.


The CITU further said the reasons attributed to the increase are a fraud on the people of the country. All the oil companies, both public and private, have reported huge incremental profits. The claims of losses, the so called huge under-recoveries and resultant financial crisis are based on imaginary, false calculations which have been totally exposed by the CITU, with facts and figures, in the past.  


The CITU called upon all the trade unions and workers to unitedly protest against this flagrant class offensive of the government and conduct mass agitations demanding withdrawal of the hike in the price of diesel and removal of the imposition of a limit on the subsidised cooking gas cylinders.


Several other mass organisations, including the All India Agricultural Workers Union and the All India Democratic Women’s Association, have also condemned the recent decisions of the government. 


The AIAWU pointed out that in a shameless manner the government of India has buckled down under the pressure of international and Indian oil cartels to raise the price of diesel and strictly limit the supply of LPG on controlled rates.


The profiteering of both the government of India and the private oil companies has resulted in the price of petrol rising from Rs 47.93 to Rs 73 per litre since July 25, 2010. This has triggered off an unprecedented price rise, close to a third more, forcing even those below the poverty line to borrow money to meet the price rise or starve. It would also make farming impossible as farmers rely largely on diesel run pumps and tractors today. This measure is bound to lead to suicide by more farmers and rural poor than ever before and further deepen the agrarian crisis.


The AIAWU pointed out that with this move the central government is actually driving India’s poorest 240 million people to death.


The organisation further said the government could make up the losses, if there are losses at all, by reducing its share of taxes on oil products, which have increased by over three times since 2001. It could further reduce the cess on public sector oil companies which has increased from Rs 900 per tonne in 2000-01 to Rs 1800 per tonne under the government led by the BJP and to Rs 2500 per tonne under that led by the Congress. Moreover, the government is seeking to increase it further to over Rs 4800 per tonne, instead of decreasing it.


On the other hand, private and foreign companies are being given free hand to sell the oil refined in India abroad and are also being given concessions in duties. Moreover, while the excise on petrol is around Rs 15 and that on diesel around Rs 10, aviation fuel pays only around Rs 3. Dr Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram are thus giving concessions to the rich and squeezing the poor.


Saying that it is high time we build a powerful movement to resist this latest boost to the price rise till it is reversed, the AIAWU asked all its units to launch united movements with peasants, workers, women and others who have to pay more than they can afford. Let us resist this move until it is reversed completely.


Strongly condemning the decision to restrict the supply of “subsidised” LPG cylinders to six per year, while remaining cylinders would have to be purchased at the so-called market prices that will be announced from time to time, the AIDWA described it as an illogical step that would only lead to a flourishing black trade in LPG cylinders in a market that is already afflicted by artificially created shortages.


The AIDWA has called upon all women in the country to rise up in one voice against these totally unjustified and backbreaking decisions, which must be rolled-back immediately.