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Petrol and diesel prices touched news highs once again on Thursday, September 13, with oil marketing companies raising retail rates by 13 paise per litre and 11 paise per litre respectively in New Delhi.

Petrol and diesel prices rose all across the country, except in Kolkata where rates fell following the state government’s decision of an excise cut.

With this price hike, non-branded petrol was priced at Rs 81 per litre in Delhi while diesel costs Rs 73.08 per litre – the highest ever prices recorded in the country’s history.A litre of petrol was retailed at Rs. 88.39 in Mumbai, Rs. 82.41 in Chennai and Rs. 82.87 in Kolkata. Diesel was sold at a price of Rs. 73.08/ litre in Delhi, Rs. 77.58 per litre in Mumbai, Rs. 77.25 per litre in Chennai and Rs. 74.93 per litre in Kolkata.

Petrol and diesel prices have been hiked continuously since 1 August – except for two days, on September 5 and 12, with petrol prices being increased by Rs 4.69 per litre and diesel prices by Rs 5.26 a litre in the national capital, on the back of a depreciating Rupee against the dollar and an increase in global fuel prices.

Globally, though, oil prices fell on Thursday, said media reports, and rupee also rose 51 paise against the dollar.

Yesterday, in a press briefing, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Piyush Goal, Minister for Railways and Coal refused to take any questions on rising fuel prices, according to media reports.

A helpless government has been unable to answer criticism over rising fuel prices and falling value of rupee, two issues which the BJP, especially its star campaigner prime minister Narendra Modi, had used to launch scathing attacks on the former Manmohan Singh government in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, accusing it of incompetence and worse. The shoe is on the other foot now.

Government has ruled out any cut on excise duty for the two fuels, citing fear of revenue loss.

Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday, when the Congress-led opposition held a Bharat bandh to protest the rising prices, blamed Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for the surge in international prices of crude and said that the solution for the fuel price hike in not in government hands.

“An atmosphere of fear is being created. When there is no support to the protests, they are resorting to violence. We stand with the people on this issue but the solution to the increase in petrol and diesel prices is not in our hands,” Prasad said.

He added, “There is political instability in Venezuela. An attempt was made on the life of the Venezuelan president. There are US sanctions on Iran. The oil production in US has decreased. We have to depend on imports for oil.”

Oil Minister Pradhan had on Saturday last week said that a weak Indian rupee against the US dollar and supply side constraints have led to high domestic fuel prices.

The government had in May this year — when petrol, diesel prices had reached their earlier peaks — said it is working on a long-term solution to reign in fuel prices when they reach uncomfortable levels. The centre is yet to disclose such a strategy.

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