In the wake of continual outcry over high fuel prices, Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday said the Union government has been appealing to states to cut VAT on petrol and diesel for giving relief to consumers.
Hardeep Singh Puri was on a day-long visit to Mahasamund, designated as `aspirational district’ under a Central scheme, in Chhattisgarh to take stock of various government schemes as part of the nationwide “samajik nyay pakhwada” (social justice fortnight) celebrations called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
When asked by reporters about the rising prices of petrol and diesel, the minister said, “our effort is to keep the prices under control, therefore the Centre slashed excise duty on petrol and diesel last year and asked the state government to do the same.”
“In Chhattisgarh, VAT on petrol and diesel is 24% and if it is reduced to 10%, the prices will automatically fall… When the consumption is rising, even 10 percent (VAT) is too much,” he added. All BJP-ruled states have reduced VAT on petrol and diesel, Puri pointed out.
He also informed that he visited a Primary Health Centre (PHC) at Patewa village earlier in the day, and was happy to see the implementation of the Ayushman Bharat scheme. The minister also visited Mahasamund Medical College from where he went to the district panchayat office and chaired a meeting with officials to review the works being done under the aspirational district programme.
Mahasamund collector Nilesh Kumar Kshirsagar gave a detailed presentation on various schemes in the meeting. Youth Congress workers tried to show black flags to the convoy of the Union minister to protest against rise in the prices of petroleum products, but were stopped by police. Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel termed Puri’s visit as political and slammed the Centre for “stopping” the special fund given to naxal-hit districts of Bastar region.
“The Central government has not been giving any additional funds to aspirational districts. Even the special fund of ₹50 crore which was being given annually to naxal-affected districts of Bastar region till 2021 has been stopped. These districts are also aspirational districts. On Wednesday I have asked Union home minister Amit Shah to resume this special assistance,” the CM told reporters in Raipur.