State owned oil companies have raised petrol prices by at least 70 paise per litre effective midnight. In Delhi, petrol will now cost Rs. 68.48 per litre.
The hike comes after two successive reductions in the price of the fuel last month, the last one being a Rs. 2.46 cut, which followed a Rs. 2.02 per litre cut on June 3. The two price reductions had wiped out more than half of the massive Rs. 7.54 per litre increase in rates, the biggest in the history, effected last month.
In a statement, Indian Oil said the latest increase was because of increasing international oil prices and the rupee-dollar exchange rate. Oil firms are projected to lose a record Rs 151,000 crore in revenue on sale of diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene, whose rates have not been revised in past one year.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who has opposed every single fuel price hike in the recent past, is reportedly "deeply unhappy" about this hike. Her party has asked for a roll back and will also reportedly talk to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about it.
"The Trinamool Congress is very much disappointed with this decision of petrol price hike. We want a roll back. The decision to increase the prices of petrol has not been discussed with the allies," party MP Kunal Ghosh said.
Mr Ghosh also said that Ms Banerjee wants wider consultations with all the political parties to chalk out a path to tackle inflation and oil price hike.
The opposition was also quick to attack the government. "The Presidential elections have just got over and they increased the prices by 70 paisa. The increase in prices are unbearable. They increase and decrease the prices according to their convenience," said BJP Spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain.
Senior CPI leader D Raja said that there is no rationale for the price hike. "I find that there is not rationality in what oil marketing companies are doing. Some days back oil marketing companies raised price by Rs 7. Again oil marketing companies are increasing prices. The prices of all the food items have already been hiked. This will lead to a cascading affect and will put the further burden on common man... This cannot be accepted," he said.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa too demanded a roll back. She also demanded that the price be restored to the rate prevailing prior to May 22 when it was hiked by Rs 7.50.
"At a time when people expect the government to address inflation and price rise besides falling Indian rupee, it is regrettable that it adopts a contradictory approach. This is an unjust hike burdening the poor and middle-class," she said in a statement.
"One can never accept Centre's justification for hiking prices citing crude oil rates. Central government's wrong pricing policy is the reason for the increase... Not only should the latest hike be rolled back but the prices be restored to the rates prevailing prior to May 22 when it effected Rs 7.50 hike," she said.
( With Agencies inputs)