New Delhi: Describing the government's decision to raise prices of diesel, cooking gas and kerosene as inevitable, the Prime Minister's economic advisor on Sunday said that it would push inflation into the double-digit zone.

"Due to the hike, inflation could be close to 10 percent by July," Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) Chairman C Rangarajan said.

However, he added, the inflation numbers would subside after the initial surge. "I do expect that after initial correction, inflation will come down to 6.5 percent by March 2012," Rangarajan said.

The decision to raise fuel prices, he said, was inevitable in view of the rising crude prices in the global market and its impact on the fiscal deficit

On June 24, the government hiked the price of diesel by Rs 3 a litre, kerosene - Rs 2 a litre and cooking gas by a steep Rs 50 a cylinder. This followed the hike of over Rs 5 per litre on petrol announced by oil marketing companies in mid-May.

The overall inflation was 9.06 percent in May, up from 8.66 percent in April. The Reserve Bank of India had recently said that it expects inflationary pressure to remain high, at an average of 9 percent till September on account of high global commodity prices.

The PMEAC chief's views found support from other experts and economists.

"Going ahead, the rate hike will adversely affect the inflation situation. While we expect inflation numbers in June to remain above nine percent, the real pinch would be felt in July when it may even touch double-digit," Deloitte, Haskin & Sells director Anis Chakravarty said.

"It (the hike) will increase inflation by about 50-60 basis points," Crisil chief economist D K Joshi said.

With volatility in oil prices in global market, where crude is ruling above USD 105 per barrel, the hike in petroleum product prices was widely expected, he said.

"Inflation was being artificially suppressed as the price hike was being delayed," Joshi added.

Even as global commodity prices remain high, the rate of price rise of food items has also soared in recent weeks after a period of moderation.

Food inflation touched a two-and-half months high of 9.13 percent for the week ended June 11 and experts said rising food prices will also impact the headline inflation.

(Agencies)