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Diesel pricing policy: Jaya may move SC

Chennai: Sharply attacking the Centre's dual pricing policy on diesel for bulk consumers, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday demanded its immediate withdrawal as it was "ill-conceived" and "short-sighted" and threatened to move the Supreme Court if it was not rolled back.

In a strongly-worded letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she said the dual pricing policy was "one of the many short-sighted measures," which would hit bulk consumers like state transport undertakings (STUs).

Jayalalithaa said she was "appalled at the callousness and deviousness of this shocking move that defies all logic" and accused the UPA government of paying only "lip service" to protecting the 'aam aadmi', but raining "one blow after another" on them.

Noting that the steep hike of Rs 11 per litre for bulk consumers would result in a loss of Rs 1000 crore to the STUs, she said "the critical situation" to the STUs was discussed at a high-level meeting on Thursday.

"Considering people's welfare, the government will bear the additional financial burden on account of the increase," she said, indicating that there will not be any hike in the bus fare.

She hoped that the Prime Minister would roll back the increase in the diesel prices for bulk consumers. "Tamil Nadu government has no other option but to approach the Supreme Court, if the Centre is not heeding to it," she said in a statement issued after releasing her letter to Singh.

Noting that the "peculiar dual pricing policy" has landed bulk consumers like STUs in a very precarious financial situation, Jayalalithaa, in her letter, demanded withdrawal of this "ill-conceived, ill-timed decision which is totally inflationary, discriminatory and anti-poor".

It was neither feasible nor advisable to raise the bus fares to make up for the huge and sudden increase in the diesel price since it would be unbearable for the common people, she said, adding, it was equally the duty of the Centre to share the burden of subsidy to provide affordable public transportation facilities.

"The Central Government cannot shirk its responsibility and pass on the burden of their own financial mis-management to the States and impose untold hardship on the citizens", she added.

(Agencies)

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