Cleaner, costlier fuels

Raising the price of low-sulphur vehicular fuels may discourage their use

Published: Sunday 30 April 2000

Cheap but not clean? Although marginal, the recent hike in prices of diesel and petrol with low sulphur content may defeat the very purpose of promoting cleaner fuels. While the price of petrol with 0.05 per cent sulphur has been hiked by 13 paise per litre, diesel with the same sulphur content will cost 52 paise more per litre.

Explaining the hike in prices, petroleum and natural gas minister Ram Naik said, "The price rise would offset the cost incurred in desulphurisation of diesel and petrol." He also announced that from October this year, these cleaner fuels would be available throughout the country.

Although lauding the government's efforts to clean Delhi's air, environmentalists feel the price hike may actually discourage vehicle owners to opt for the cleaner versions of the fuels. "The government should be more imaginative in its fiscal policy," says Anumita Roychowdhury, coordinator of the Centre for Science and Environment's Clean Air campaign.She further explains, If the basic aim is to promote cleaner fuels, the government should have hiked the prices of the inferior quality. That would have effectively marginalised the use of polluting fuels by vehicle owners."

Yet another aspect that needs to be looked into is the distribution of these fuels with low sulphur content. Roychowdhury points out: "The ministry of petroleum and natural gas has said the low-sulphur fuels will be distributed to non-commercial vehicles that are Euro ii compliant. However, to make a marked difference in the city's air quality, the cleaner fuels will have to be provided to every vehicle."

Sulphur content in petrol and diesel was reduced to 0.05 per cent from 0.2 per cent and 0.25 per cent respectively.

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