After raising cooking gas prices by Rs 125 per cylinder last month, state-owned oil firms on Wednesday announced a Rs 10 per cylinder cut in LPG rates on softening international oil prices. A 14.2-kg LPG cylinder — both for subsidised and market price users — will cost Rs 809 from April 1 as against Rs 819 currently, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) said in a statement.
The price cut, which traditionally is announced on the day the change is effective — four times the rates went up in a span of one month — was announced a day ahead of the second phase of voting in West Bengal. The politically crucial Nandigram constituency from where state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is taking on her once-trusted aide Suvendu Adhikari, who is contesting on BJP ticket, is also going for polls on Thursday. “Prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the international market have been on a constant uptrend since November 2020. As India is largely import-dependent on crude oil and the prices are market-linked, the increase in international prices resulted in an increase in the domestic price of petroleum products,” IOC said.
However, due to growing worries about rising COVID cases in Europe and Asia and concerns over the side effects of the vaccine, prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the international market softened in the second fortnight of March 2021. “Accordingly, oil companies have reduced the retail selling price of diesel and petrol by 60 paise per litre and 61 paise per litre, respectively, at Delhi market over the past few days. There was a corresponding reduction in prices at other markets during this period,” it said.
This reduction has come as a relief to motorists and transporters across India. “Further, with a view to give relief to domestic LPG consumers, the price of domestic LPG cylinder has been reduced by Rs 10 per cylinder from Rs 819 to Rs 809 per cylinder at Delhi effective April 1, 2021. The same reduction has been carried out in other markets,” it said.
LPG prices had gone up by Rs 125 per 14.2-kg cylinder since the beginning of February, price data from state-owned oil marketing companies showed. LPG is available only at one rate, market price, across the country. The government, however, gives a small subsidy to select customers.
However, this subsidy has been eliminated in metros and major cities through successive price increases over the past couple of years. So, in places like Delhi, there is no subsidy paid to customers since May 2020 and all LPG users pay the market price, which has now been reduced to Rs 809. An oil company official said a small subsidy is paid to customers in remote and far-flung areas to make up for the higher price arising from freight charges.
LPG prices were hiked first by Rs 25 per cylinder on February 4, followed by a Rs 50 per cylinder increase on February 15 and a Rs 25 raise on February 25 and March 1. After three reductions in one week, petrol now costs Rs 90.56 per litre in Delhi, down from a record high of Rs 91.17, and a litre of diesel comes for Rs 80.87.
Despite bouts of rate freeze, prices had gone up by a record Rs 21.58 per litre for petrol since the government raised excise duty in March last year. Diesel prices had increased by Rs 19.18 a litre. “Driven by the vigorous thrust of the government on making accessible clean energy to all Indians, LPG has emerged as the preferred kitchen partner for almost every Indian. LPG penetration in India has improved from 55 per cent in 2014 to more than 99 per cent today,” IOC said.