If you thought that the fuel price hike affected only the poor, you are mistaken. A lot of people in Chennai have ditched their cars and switched to bicycles as a healthy and efficient mode of transport. A lot of them are also taking trains and the city's brand new Metro rail to work.
N Nagarajan, a software professional, is regularly seen cycling along Chennai's IT Corridor. He owns an SUV, but over the last few months has stopped driving to work. Instead he pedals 20 km every day. With petrol at over Rs 85 a litre, he says the rising fuel bill is affecting savings for his little daughter.
He says, "Consistent savings make a big difference. If I fill around 800 litres of petrol in a year and if there is Rs 10 increase in fuel prices during that period, it's a good idea to keep the car at home and save that amount for my daughter's future."
In another part of the city, Dr Praise Ambrose, a dentist, has also given his car a break. He stays in Anna Nagar and takes the Metro to cover nearby areas. He doesn't mind the extra walk from the station to his destination.
He says, "First of all the fuel is expensive, then traffic jams slow you down and also affect the mileage. It adds to my expenses. The government should consider strengthening the public transport system and must take steps to reduce tax on fuel."
Fishermen say the diesel price hike has hit their livelihood. Many like Udhaya Kumar are not going to the sea. In Rameswaram, 800 mechanised boats have remained parked to protest the price rise. Fishermen are demanding subsidised diesel to run their boats.
Udhaya Kumar says, "We are unable to operate our boats. It's a scary situation."
T Thennarasu, who heads the fishermen's association in Chennai, says "If we get subsidized fuel, then perhaps we can revive fishing."
The central government blames it on rising crude oil price and declining rupee value against the dollar. And the centre isn't willing to bring fuel under the GST. Even the Tamil Nadu government has ruled out any tax cut.
Ravikumar Kandasami, a contractor, says that fuel price hike could become a key poll issue ahead of the national elections next year.
He added, "People are angry. Even Kerala has reduced the tax on fuel despite the calamity due to floods. But the statement government here has done nothing. All these will reflect in election results."
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