The pandemic has already led to job loss, pay-cuts and all-round downfalls in way-of-living for many. To make matters worse, the prices of essential commodities is now seeing a spike owing to the constant hike in fuel prices. This is what the transporters and traders are saying. In fact on May 20, the national transporters body of All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) wrote a ‘SOS’ 8-point letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging to take slew of measures to save transportation business.
At present the graph on prices of diesel and petrol are simply going upwards. On May 1, the prices of diesel was Rs 87.81 which as on May 20, has touched 90.71 per litre thus a 3.20 percent hike. Sources said that at the start of the year on January 1, the diesel price was Rs 80.51 per litre.
Likewise, petrol too stands at Rs 99.14 per litre on May 20 which stood at Rs 96.83 on May 1. As on January 1, petrol prices were Rs 90.34 per litre. “We want the government to cut duties on fuel which is 18 per cent. As it is the cost of trucks have gone up considerably, plus 70 per cent of the total trucks and tempos are off road as commercial runs are not happening and essential vehicles are on road. With increase in fuel price, this is putting immense pressure on transporters,” said Prakash Gawli, president, AIMTC.
The letter written by AIMTC mentions that fleet utilisation has plummeted to 65 per cent. And that tolls must be made free for movement of vehicles carrying essential goods. The cascading effect of steady price rise of diesel is now visible in food grains.
In the last year, there was around 20 per cent to 30 per cent rise in food grain prices. Traders at the wholesale market in Vashi claim that oil prices have seen the maximum rise in the last six months. This isn’t seen much on vegetables and fruits which are perishable goods. Bhimji Bhanushali, secretary of the Grain, Rice & Oilseeds, Merchants’ Association (GROMA) said that there is around 20% to 30% rise in most of the food grains due to rise in diesel price rise. “Even Re 1 rise in diesel price has a cascading effect on cost of food grains,” said Bhanushali. The grain market in APMC receives around 100 to 120 trucks loaded with different kinds of food grain and oils per day.
Viren Shah, president, Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association said, “Basically over the past few days there has been an increase in prices of goods by 10-15 per cent. The shops selling essential goods and kirana shops are barely working for four hours and it is impractical to work.”