Fuel price hikes are inevitable. There is not much else we can do - and wasting time on bandhs is not going to solve anything either. What should you be doing? Here are 7 things including filling up your tanks and tyres in the morning!
On Wednesday, the oil marketing companies hiked petrol prices by Rs6.28 per litre, excluding local sales tax or VAT, which translates into a hike of Rs7.50 per litre in Delhi. Fuel price hikes are inevitable, given the multiple issues surrounding them, and the earlier we try to take individual as well as joint steps to address the issue - the better. Here are some suggestions:-
1) Obviously, shift to more fuel efficient motor vehicles, the smaller the better. That aside, more importantly, knowing a bit about engine technology and how to maintain them was never more useful - accessing and cleaning the air filter with a reverse flush using compressed air, for example. But then, what do you do if the manufacturer has made it close to impossible for the vehicle owner/operator to even access the air filter? There was never a better time to read the owner's manual than now.
2) Fill up the fuel and press up the air pressure in tyres as early in the morning as possible. Fuel which has cooled down in the underground tanks overnight is denser, and you simply get more bang for your buck. Air pressure checked in the morning also takes you through the hotter parts of the day with higher pressure, which slight difference can make all the difference between a car that rolls freely as against one that rolls sluggishly.
3) If you use a two-wheeler for local short distance commuting, then consider shifting to battery operated two-wheelers, and if your town/city/state does not support them by providing the kind of subsidies that are available to us in cities like Delhi. This is straight 33% subsidy by Delhi Government (existing), 20% central Government (proposed), no road tax, no registration for smaller scooters, no driving licence and most of all - no harassment. Get together and start lobbying for them in your own states. You can now even charge some of them by onboard solar cells.
4) One political formation hikes the prices, other political formation organises bandhs, and big noise is made by our elected leaders. This is nonsense, do they think we are idiots, this is an insult to our basic intelligence, who are the politicians fooling anymore, time to tell them directly to their face. Tell them to follow Gujarat: give us more renewable energy options, and tell them not to go back to their old wasteful ways - since we know that they are paid/reimbursed by litre, regardless of cost. Better to start getting organised and then letting them know that their individual future depends on how they show that they are reducing wastage of fuel on government expense.
5) Start demanding that cycle parking as well as cycle tracks is provided in your towns and cities as part of electoral promises. And that the prime parking slots in government buildings be assigned to people who come on cycles. Eventually, along with public transport, this will have to be the solution for multiple issues so the sooner we try to make life better for cyclists, the better - another electoral issue. People in Bangalore are way ahead of many others in this context already.
6) Cooking gas is a major expense head already, whether purchased legit or through the grey market, as many have to do. A viable option for fairly good savings is to use induction cookers. Without being brand specific, we have found that in our home kitchen (a) the energy cost has come down by a factor of almost 3:1 and (b) the kitchen is not such a hot and sweaty place anymore either. Plus, these electricity operated induction cookers come with timers and automatic functions, unlike cooking gas or oil, and can be pre-programmed to work without you having to be on top of them all the time.
7) Public transport is the one solution everybody talks about - but do we know how the local, state and central government's tax and make life difficult for buses, autos and taxis? The reality is hopeless - making public transport costlier flies in the face of any common sense attempt to reduce fuel expenses, but that is what is done, shamelessly, by our government bodies. Please take the trouble to find out how the system conspires against good public transport in your town by levying all sorts of tolls, taxes, permit fees, seat fees and more, in addition to all sorts of illegal pressures and problems faced - and let the elected representatives know that these shall be electoral issues in the near future.
These are just a few suggestions across a wide spectrum of choices available - but most are driven by the need to let your elected representative know that good public transport will decide his future. The example of how the Delhi Government boasts about the Delhi Metro as its major most important achievement is a good example. We have no other way to save money - and retain mobility at the same time.
Go for these and many other ideas. There is not much else we can do - and wasting time on bandhs is not going to solve anything either.