- An MP questioned why fuel prices were lower in Nepal, Sri Lanka
- Dharmendra Pradhan replied it was wrong to draw comparisons like this
- "Shall we compare ourselves with large or small economies?" he questioned
A jibe floating on social media featured in Parliament today as the government faced questions on soaring fuel prices. An opposition MP questioned why the prices of petrol and diesel were lower in neighbouring countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka.
"Petrol is cheaper in Mother Sita's land Nepal and Ravana's land Lanka. Then will the government reduce petrol diesel prices in the land of Ram," Samajwadi Party MP Vishambhar Prasad Nishad asked in the Rajya Sabha, quoting what has been a widely-circulated theme on social media comparing fuel prices of India and its neighbours with references from the epic Ramayana.
Union Minister for Petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan replied that it was wrong to draw comparisons like this as fewer people compare India with these countries as only a few people in their society used fuel. "Shall we compare ourselves with large economies or small economies? Mass consumption items are expensive in these countries. There is a big difference in prices of kerosene in these countries and ours. In Bangladesh and Nepal kerosene is around Rs 57 to 59. In India it is Rs 32 a litre," the minister said.
Opposition questions follow a record high in fuel prices, especially in the four top metros, where petrol costs more than Rs 85 a litre. Petrol prices have increased by Rs 6 a litre in three months in these cities. Mumbai has seen a spike in diesel prices.
The minister said petrol and diesel prices were governed by an international price mechanism.
"In the last 300 days, there have been around 60 days of increase in price (and) in around 7 days in petrol and 21 days in diesel we have decreased the price. And for almost 250 days we have not increased or decreased prices. So it's a misnomer to campaign in that way that it is at an all-time high," he told Rajya Sabha.
The minister said the prices of petrol and diesel were linked to the market in June 2010 and October 2014. Since then, the Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies had taken decisions on pricing of petrol and diesel in line with international product prices and other market conditions.
The central Excise duty on petrol and diesel had been reduced to bring down prices, he said.