Consumers under burden

After China, India is the second largest consumer of hydrocarbon energy in the Asian Continent. It is because of the vastness of her population as well as her enormous developmental programme. Like China, she is also obliged to import oil and gas from abroad to meet her requirements because she is domestically short of energy resources. For this essential commodity, both China and India are depending on supplies from oil rich countries in the Gulf and Iran. The speed with which China and India are developing their economies demand vast imports of energy from abroad. Therefore this sector occupies special priority with both countries. But whereas China has floated very aggressive and productive energy policy, India, dictated by the oil cartels, has not been able to forge hassle free oil transactions with the oil producing Gulf countries. In particular, after the disintegration of Iraq with which India had entered into large scale oil transactions on justifiable terms, we have been virtually running from pillar to post in search of suitable oil and gas transactions. The fact of the matter is that Gulf oil being in great demand especially in the western countries, oil prices are generally regulated by the universal law of supply and demand. Consequently we find fluctuations in price on day to day or week to week basis. India cannot escape the impact of this ground reality.
But China has been far more pragmatic and active in giving some semblance of stability to oil demand and supply mechanism as against India. Soon after the implosion of Soviet Union in 1991, China jumped into Central Asian region where she had smelt oil, and began making large scale investments for exploration, exploitation and transportation of oil and gas. Since Kazakhstan is contiguous to her eastern province, China decided to have stakes in Kazakh oil and thus structured rail and road link with this contiguous Central Asian Republic. With Turkmen gas fields capable of producing enormous quantities of gas, China made large scale of investments there also. Apart from these new-found sources of energy, China adopted visionary policy of large scale investment in energy resources in the oil producing Gulf States as well. In contrast, India being debilitated by absence of overland connectivity with Central Asian States with rich hydrocarbon reserves could not make much headway in supplementing her energy needs from Central Asian sources. While China has managed to a large extent to wriggle out of the clutches of western oil cartels, India is struggling to come to terms with them, obviously at their and not her terms. Indian Oil Companies are collaborative partners of the international consortium and usually go by their culture. India could strike neither the IPI nor TAPI gas pipeline deal for whatever reasons. Hence we are face to face with energy crisis of sorts.
The immediate brunt of hike in LPG as well as in petrol and petroleum products has to be borne by ordinary consumer in this country. Cooking gas (LPG) price is hiked by Rs 11.42 per cylinder following Government decision to raise commission paid to the dealers. Petrol and diesel prices, too, may go up marginally as the Oil Ministry considers raising dealers’ commission by at least 23 paisa and 10 paisa a litre respectively. LPG dealers will get the commission of Rs. 37.25 instead of Rs. 25.83 per 14.2 kg cylinder. The 44 per cent or Rs 11.42 per cylinder increase in the commission on the subsidised cooking fuel is being passed on to consumers, It will be noted that the hike in the price of LPG has been announced within a week of capping the supply of LPG gas cylinders at 6 cylinder per family per year. The fact is that the subject of supply of LPG has become too worrisome for the ordinary people. Firstly there is much uncertainty about uninterrupted supply of gas for household consumption. Secondly there is no guarantee from any quarter whether the price of gas cylinder will remain steady and households can frame their monthly budget without hassles. Whether the hike is meant to benefit the oil companies or the dealers is a different matter. The reality is that this burden is ultimately passed on to the consumer. It is weakening his power of purchase and destabilizing his economy. The hike is bigger in the case of non-subsidized cylinders which will now cost Rs 1,062, while that of a 19-kg bottle would be Rs 1,536.5.
The State Government is reported to be in touch with relevant sources in New Delhi to work out a mechanism through which some relief would be given to the J&K State consumers. Various groups of people meeting the Law Minister  Sagar during his visit to the interior Srinagar city recently spoke of many difficulties faced by them in obtaining gas cylinders for household consumption. The Minister has informed that the State Government was in close contact with the Centre to find out a mechanism that could bring some relief. When and whether it happens is not clear. Hassle free fuel supply is becoming a serious issue.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here