NEW DELHI: Two days before Delhi gets a new chief minister, compressed natural gas (CNG) rates were hiked on Thursday by a steep Rs 4.50 — the second increase in three months — giving rise to the prospect of costlier public transport for Delhiites and throwing a challenge to the incoming Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government.
CNG will cost Rs 50.10 per kg in Delhi and Rs 56.70 in Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad from midnight of Thursday, said Indraprastha Gas Ltd, the sole supplier of CNG and PNG in Delhi. The price of piped cooking gas was also raised by Rs 5.15 per kg.
CNG price was last revised in September by Rs 3.70 per kg. The latest rise instantly sparked a reaction from some auto unions, which demanded a hike in fares and threatened a stir to press to for it.
CM-designate Arvind Kejriwal was quick to question the timing of the hike. In a tweet, Kejriwal stated, “CNG rates hiked in Delhi. Isn’t the time suspect?”
An Aam Admi Party official on Thursday said Kejriwal would meet transport department officals and auto unions a day or two after taking oath, to find a solution to the problem of the latest hike in CNG prices. The threat of a strike has been only issued by one or two ‘motivated’ unions, he stressed.
“There are very few unions that are protesting, since most of them are Arvind supporters. The party is prepared to fulfill it promise made to auto drivers on rationalizing fares. It would be done soon,” said Karan Singh, coordinator of AAP’s auto cell.
Meanwhile, auto unions said the CNG hike would hit auto drivers hard. “This is the second time prices of CNG have risen this year, while our fares were revised way back in April. We kept quiet about the first hike but this time it will pinch the pockets of the all auto drivers,” said Rajender Soni, Delhi Pradesh Taxi and Auto Union.
Union leaders added they would be meeting Kejriwal after he takes over as chief minister and ask him to consider revising auto and taxi fares. “We will have to go for a strike if the prices are not revised,” said Soni.
Rakesh Sood, from the Krantikari Auto Chalak Manch, echoed the demand, saying auto fares were based April-May CNG prices.
IGL said the increase was primarily due to increase in input cost as a result of reallocation of domestically produced gas quantities by the government for all city gas distribution companies. “There has been a reduction in allocation of APM gas to us, which is forcing us to source more quantity of market-priced imported R-LNG, whose prices are currently on an upswing. This has affected our overall input cost by over 13%,” an IGL statement said.
It said there has also been an increase in operating expenses including increase in minimum wages announced by the government with effect from October 2013.
The price of piped natural gas (PNG) to the households in Delhi is being revised from Rs 27.50 per standard cubic metre to Rs 29.50 per scm up to a consumption of 30 scm in two months. Beyond this, the applicable rate in Delhi would be Rs 52 per scm.
Due to differential tax structure in Uttar Pradesh, the price of domestic PNG to households in Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad would be Rs 31 per scm up to a consumption of 30 scm in two months, beyond which it would be Rs 54 per scm.