Consumer Issues
Oil Ministry moves Cabinet note on raising diesel, LPG prices

Oil Ministry is seeking immediate hike in diesel, cooking gas and kerosene prices and limiting supply of subsidised LPG cylinders to 4-6 per household in a year. The price hike may take place anytime after Friday

New Delhi: The Oil Ministry has moved a Cabinet note seeking immediate hike in diesel, cooking gas and kerosene prices and limiting supply of subsidised LPG cylinders to 4-6 per household in a year, reports PTI.


The ministry's proposal to the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) also includes barring households with income of more than Rs50,000 per month or Rs6 lakh in a year from getting LPG cylinders at subsidised rates.


The Cabinet committee is likely to consider the hike at the first occasion it meets after the current monsoon session of Parliament ends on Friday, a top Oil Ministry official said here today.


Also on cards is an increase in petrol price on which the state-owned oil firms, despite having freedom to raise rates, are losing close to Rs6 per litre.


The price hike may take place anytime after Friday.


"The situation facing us is very grim. We can no longer afford to postpone a price hike," the official said.


"We have not recommended the quantum of increase in rates but have analysed the situation that warrants an immediate price rise," he added.


Diesel, domestic LPG and PDS kerosene rates have not been changed since June 2011 even though cost of production has soared 28%.


Oil PSUs are losing Rs560 crore per day on sale of diesel and cooking fuel at present, and are forced to resort to short-term borrowings to meet funds needed for importing crude oil (raw material for making fuel).


Shivkasi fire: 30 killed, 70 injured in major fire at cracker unit in TN

The fire broke out when fancy cracker items were being made at the factory at Mudalipatti, near Sivakasi and gutted all 48 sheds in the premises killing 30 people

Sivakasi (Tamil Nadu): In a major tragedy, at least 30 persons were on Wednesday charred to death and 70 others injured when fire swept through a cracker unit at Sivakasi, a fireworks manufacturing hub in Tamil Nadu, reports PTI.


Police and fire officials said the toll may rise, as firefighters struggled to enter the building of Omshakti Fireworks Factory. Thirty people have died, police and fire officials at the spot said.


"These are times ahead of Deepavali. So activities go on at breakneck speed in the cracker units," Virudhunagar District Superintendent of Police Najmul Hoda said.


A factory official said 300 persons were at work at the unit at the time of the incident.


In October 2009, 32 people, most of them Deepavali shoppers, were killed at a cracker godown fire in Pallipattu in Tiruvallur district.


The fire broke out when fancy cracker items were being made at the factory at Mudalipatti, nine km from Sivakasi, police said, adding all 48 sheds in the premises were gutted.


Fire officials said due to the variety of chemicals used in pyrotechnics crackers, there was thick and suffocating smoke, making the task difficult for fire fighters.


Kingfisher lenders ask Mallya to make fresh revival plan by September

`The lenders led by SBI have asked Vijay Mallya to make a presentation himself at their next meeting and provide business plan, details and values of securities structure

Mumbai: The meeting of Kingfisher Airlines' lenders in Mumbai on Wednesday remained inconclusive as banks have sought more details from the management on the revival plan by September, when they will meet again, reports PTI.


"We have requested more detailed kind of presentations for us to figure out how their (Kingfisher Airlines) business is moving forward, what is their securities structure and what are the kind of things happening inside the system which is adding value to the security," a banker told reporters after the meeting.


"Once we understand clearly, which we couldn't today, we could probably take a call," he said, adding, "we have also requested chairman Vijay Mallya himself to come and make a presentation at the next meeting likely in September."


The financially crippled airline has 17 lenders led by the State Bank of India (SBI), which has an exposure of Rs1,500 crore to the airline, which has not been servicing its nearly Rs7,000 crore long-term bank loans since January. It has also not been paying salaries to its employees, or statutory taxes.


The banker further said, "We want to know what are the things they want to do to repay our loans, in the short term, medium and long term. There should be clarity."


Apart from this huge debt, the airline also has an accumulated loss of over Rs8,000 crore. Since its launch in May 2005, the airline has not made money.


The meeting was significant in wake of a recent report by industry analyst Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) which cast doubts on continuation of airline's operations if it is unable to infuse $600 million immediately.


The last meeting of the lenders took place in July, wherein they appointed HDFC Securities to value two pledged properties-the Kingfisher House in Mumbai and the Kingfisher Villa in Goa, which together have a value of around Rs180 crore, with a view to dispose of as part of recovery measures.


"Kingfisher faces the prospect of an operational shutdown, possibly temporarily, to allow it to restructure and re-organise. A viable turnaround is unrealistic without a significant recapitalisation of the airline," CAPA said in its report on the industry's performance in the first quarter of the current fiscal, last week.


According to the agency, restructuring of the airline will require the banks to take a significant hit as they have a huge exposure to the carrier.


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