Ris­ing fuel prices give In­di­ans tough time on roads

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Holiday - XIN­HUA

NEW DELHI — Hit hard by a steep hike in fuel prices, ur­ban res­i­dents in In­dia are try­ing all cost-ef­fec­tive mea­sures to tackle com­mut­ing. The most pop­u­lar among them has been to shun the use of pri­vate cars and re­sort to pub­lic trans­port or car­pool­ing.

Petrol and diesel prices have been steadily ris­ing over the past few months.

De­spite protests, petrol has reached 80 In­dian ru­pees ($1.1) per liter in most In­dian cities, in­clud­ing New Delhi, and reached 90 ru­pees ($1.2) in fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal Mum­bai, as the dip in the value of In­dia’s cur­rency and rise in in­ter­na­tional crude prices con­tinue to push rates across the coun­try to an all-time high.

In­dia is the third-largest of crude oil and ris­ing prices are in­flat­ing do­mes­tic trans­port fuel costs in an en­vi­ron­ment where de­mand is strong.

Brent, the bench­mark for more than half the world’s oil, climbed to $80 per bar­rel from $71 in the past five weeks, and the ru­pee lost ground against the dol­lar by 5-6 per­cent dur­ing the same pe­riod, re­sult­ing in ex­pen­sive crude im­ports.

The rise has forced many to cut house­hold ex­penses to ad­just.

“I have been car­pool­ing since last month when the prices started to rise. With my salary and two chil­dren to ed­u­cate, it’s dif­fi­cult to man­age the bud­get. Though car­pool­ing can be a time-con­sum­ing ex­er­cise, it is help­ing us man­age our monthly ex­penses as most of the money we make for our sur­vival was go­ing into re­fu­el­ing the car,” said Gargi Chaud­hury, an IT ex­ec­u­tive.

In a re­cent sur­vey con­ducted by cit­i­zens’ fo­rum Lo­cal Cir­cles, par­tic­i­pants from five cities re­sponded that the fuel price rise has cre­ated a sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial im­pact on their daily lives.

Re­spon­dents said they had cut down on leisure ac­tiv­i­ties and dis­cre­tionary spend­ing like eat­ing out, travel, movies and shop­ping, which is par­tic­u­larly de­press­ing given that the fes­ti­val sea­son is around the cor­ner.

“My wife used to spend al­most 10,000 In­dian ru­pees ($150) per month on fuel but with the price hike, we could not af­ford to shell out more than we were al­ready do­ing. We both have stopped us­ing our cars and in­stead us­ing the rail or car­pool­ing with col­leagues. The price rise has re­ally burned a hole in our pock­ets. We are also think­ing of aban­don­ing our cars al­to­gether to travel on bikes to the of­fice and use bi­cy­cles for daily-use pur­poses,” said Akash Singh, a Delhi-based pri­vate sec­tor bank ex­ec­u­tive.

Stu­dents like Sh­weta Bhanot have taken to the Metro. “My par­ents bought me a car re­cently to go to col­lege. But with my pocket money, I can­not af­ford the fuel. In fact, the Metro is also ex­pen­sive for me,” said the Delhi Univer­sity stu­dent.

BARTLOMIEJ JURECKI / SOLENT NEWS

An army of sheep are marched back to their farms — com­pletely block­ing main roads on their route. Shep­herds were herd­ing their flocks down from the Carpathian moun­tains in the south of Poland, walk­ing for 30 kilo­me­ters so they can win­ter at farms in the re­gion.

PRAFUL GANGURDE / HIN­DUS­TAN TIMES VIA GETTY IM­AGES

Demon­stra­tors protest against the petrol and diesel price rise in Mum­bai, In­dia, on Aug 31.

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