Saturday, May 17, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Public blames fate, gives clean chit to Railways
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 16
A day after 38 persons on board the Golden Temple Express were charred to death and several were injured after three coaches caught fire near here, the response of the passengers towards the Railways at the local railway station was as enthusiastic as ever as most of the persons blamed fate rather than finding fault with the Railways.

There was no sign of fear among the passengers who were either coming to Ludhiana or going to some other places as they said that such stray incidents were mere accidents and these could not shake the faith of a population of billions which depended on trains to go to various places.

As Ludhiana Tribune spoke to a cross-section of people at the railway station, there were very few who shared their feelings of fear while travelling in the train.

Similar views were expressed by Govind Giri, a resident of Gorakhpur, who was waiting for a train to Delhi at the local railway station. He said that yesterday’s accident had not moved his faith in the Indian Railways and he still considered it as the best and safest mode of travelling.

Mr Anil Kumar, a resident of Delhi, who was also waiting for a train said that Railways could not be blamed for any such incident. ‘‘Hundreds of such trains reach the destinations every day. Doesn't matter if one out of thousand trains meets with such an accident. Planes also crash. That doesn’t mean they are unsafe. How can we pass a judgement on a single incident?’’ he asked.

Sharing his views a driver with the Indian Railways, Mr Ayodhya Prashad, said, ‘‘What fear? I have been driving trains for the last 32 years and my train has never met with an accident. If trains were unsafe, I would have been a casualty too. Its very bad to blame the railways for such accidents. They are providing a mode of transport to countless people belonging to all walks of life.’’

An Army man, Ranjit Singh, who was travelling in a train bound to Jammu said that he had never thought of an accident whenever he boarded a train. ‘‘We usually keep coming and going in the trains but nothing has ever happened to us. Whenever we think of trains we never feel unsafe. This is the general reputation, the railways enjoys.’’

While these people gave the Railways a clean chit, there were some who said that they were fearful of travelling in the trains. Ms Manju, a resident of Ludhiana, was one such person who said that the department should do something to earn back its reputation. I have no option but to travel in the train as I have to reach Jamshedpur. But I am really scared. Who can travel comfortably in a train after learning about so many deaths only yesterday, she asked.

Mr Harminder Singh Bajwa, another local resident also agreed with her. He said that such accidents shocked the people.



Nitish Kumar’s sack sought
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 16
Activists of the District Youth Congress led by former district president Parminder Mehta performed a havan yagya to pray for peace to the victims of train fire and speedy recovery of those injured in the tragic accident. The party workers also observed two minutes silence and fast for rest of the day.

Earlier speaking at the occasion, Mr Mehta alleged that many a serious rail accident had taken place during the regime of present NDA government and a large number of precious human lives were lost. However, the Union Railway Minister had failed to own responsibility for serious lapses on the part of Railway. He said the Railway Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar, should be dismissed and senior railway officials should be prosecuted for criminal negligence of failure to provide fire safety measures in train compartments.

Chief of Lok Bhalai Party and former Union Minister Balwant Singh Ramoowalia said that the second gruesome fire tragedy in the city within one week was shocking. He offered sympathy with the family members of the victims and prayed for early recovery of the hospitalised passengers. Mr Ramoowalia further urged the Union Government to expedite the inquiry into the tragic accident so that the real cause should be known and remedial measures, to avoid recurrence of such accidents, be taken.

The state general secretary of Bhartiya Janata Party, Mr Rajinder Bhandari, while expressing deep sorrow at the loss of lives in the train fire, emphasised the need to focus on safety measures in the trains so that such accidents could be avoided. He lauded the role played by government departments and voluntary organisations in rescue and relief work.

The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) functionaries, including Mr Balwant Rai Kapoor, president, Mr Sunder Lal Mehta, vice president and Mr Shiv Kumar Gupta, general secretary have expressed grief over the train fire accident.

In a statement, they asked the government to initiate strict disciplinary action against the concerned TTE’s for allowing unauthorised persons to travel in three ill fated coaches of Golden Temple Mail since the passengers, with the luggage, squatting near the doors and in front of the vestibules caused obstruction in the way of trapped passengers, thereby further compounding the tragedy.

Mr Gurinder Sood, a former member of divisional rail users consultative committee observed that the gruesome fire, which engulfed three coaches of the train, was a direct result of grave negligence on the part of on-train staff. He said had the TTEs been present in all the three compartments, they would have immediately noticed the sparks at the initial stage and timely preventive measures could have averted the mishap. Similarly, the luggage dumped in front of the doors and in the aisle also should not have been there if the railway staff were performing their duty diligently.

The Labour and Employees Cell of PPCC has condoled the death of rail passengers in the horrible train disaster and called for adequate compensation to the next of kin of the deceased passengers and proper treatment for the injured.



VIPs’ visits become headache for docs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 16
The ‘VIP menace’ played to its true reputation once again, this time in the Golden Temple Mail incident by hampering the rescue work and medical care of the injured admitted to various hospitals of the city.

One after another a VVIP came calling, sending the local police, railway police and railway officials in a tizzy. On the one hand they were supposed to make arrangements for the injured and their relatives, besides handling the rush of people busy identifying the bodies, on the other the officials had to make all arrangements for the visit of the VVIPs.

The visits disturbed the medical officers in hospitals to such an extent that several of them had to put restrictions on the number of persons accompanying the VVIPs. The city saw the visit of various ministers, including the Railway Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee Chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, who had come to meet the injured. Along with them came hundreds of supporters, who entered the special wards wearing slippers. As if it was not enough, various local MLAs also thronged the wards.

Doctors at the Christian Medical College and Hospital, where most of the injured are being treated, said they were really troubled by the visits of VIPs, who brought with them their entourage thus causing inconvenience to the patients who were already in deep pain. The visitors needed extra precaution while going inside the wards. The doctors did not even allow relatives of the victims to stay inside for more than a few minutes.

A senior doctor at the CMC, who did not want to be quoted, expressed his displeasure at the visits of the VIPs. He said he was shocked to see several members of the VIPs’ entourage entering special wards along with their leaders to get their photographs clicked.

“At least a dozen VIPs came to see the patients yesterday along with their followers. We requested some of them to meet relatives in a special room and spare the patients, but nobody listened to us. They think we want to affect their vote-bank by preventing them from going inside,” said the doctor.



Endless wait for missing relatives
Deepkamal Kaur and Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, May 16
It is an endless wait for relatives who have been frantically trying to locate the whereabouts of their kin who had boarded the Golden Temple Mail from different locations before it met with a catastrophe claiming several lives.

Unsure of what to do, these people have been moving between the Ludhiana Railway Station and various hospitals where the injured have been admitted in a hope to establish contact with their relatives. Most of them have even visited the mortuary where unidentified bodies have been kept.

Frail and old, Mr Gurdas Ram had come from Sultanpur Lodhi this morning. Reaching the railway station, he started looking for his younger brothers, Bhushan Lal and Muni Lal, who had boarded the train from Mumbai on Wednesday evening. He said his brothers were supposed to reach Jalandhar yesterday in connection with some business. He said he called Jalandhar last evening, but was told that they had not reached.

This morning when he came to the railway station, he was told that the names of his brothers were not on the list of passengers in the reserved category. He was told to check for his brothers at Dayanand Medical College, Christian Medical College or the Civil Hospital for they said several passengers were travelling “unreserved”. Weeping bitterly, the old man went through the lists of injured and dead, but could not find their names. Deciding to continue the search, he sat down for a while and decided to visit the Civil Hospital.

Mr Srikanth of Hyderabad who had flown to Delhi last night, arrived at Ludhiana this morning. He enquired about his 13 family members, including his parents, who were on their way to the Golden Temple. The employees on duty at the enquiry told him to look for them at Christian Medical College and Hospital. On reaching there, he was glad to see his mother, Padmavati, three uncles and an aunt but his father, Srinivasan Murthy, was missing.

In a hunt for his father and six relatives, he decided to go to Amritsar to check if they had reached there in a special train that left from Ludhiana two hours after the train blast.

Mr Shankar reached Ludhiana from New Delhi to look for his brother, Ashok who had boarded the train on Wednesday evening from New Delhi. After hearing about the fire, he said he had been trying to contact his brother over the phone in Amritsar but to no avail. Eventually, he boarded the train and reached there. Unable to find him, he came to Ludhiana but has not been able to trace his brother.

Ms Baljit Kaur, of Sultanpur Lodhi has also been looking for her husband Kashmira Singh since morning. By afternoon she reached the Civil Hospital where the search came to a tragic end as she identified her husband’s body in the mortuary.

Mr Ravinder Kumar and Ms Sangeeta have almost lost their mental balance after losing their eight-year-old son, Nitin, and four-year-old daughter, Mahima. Currency notes of Rs 2.10 lakh that they were given as compensation are no better than pieces of paper for them. “Tell us where can we go and buy our children? We can earn money all our lives, but will our children ever come back?” they question the team of medical attendants.

Dr John Abraham, Medical Superintendent of the CMCH, says, “Two patients, Anil Kumar and Ms Sangeeta, who were critical yesterday, are stable today. Other of 10 patients are also doing fine.”

Naik Bikram Singh and Havildar Satpal Singh suffering burns are being looked after by Mr Jaswant Singh of JAK Ri Unit. Asharf is suffering from nausea, but is thankful that he has been saved.

While all are recuperating well, in terms of physical health, they are all shattered both emotionally and psychologically. They fail to reconcile to the fact that they have survived, while some persons with whom they had spent 24 hours and had formed some special bonds have perished.



Contradictory views on the cause of fire
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, May 16
Was the fire in Frontier Mail in the wee hours of Thursday accidental or the result of a sabotage? That was the topic of discussion at the railway station today and none of the participants was willing to buy the story that the fire was the result of carelessly thrown cigarette or a biri, a stove burst or even a short-circuit.

According to Railway officials, the train left Ludhiana at around 3.40 am and running at a speed of 100 km per hour it was expected to reach Phillaur, the next halt which is about 18 km from here, within 12 minutes. But it came to an unscheduled halt after covering about 8.5 km, about 1.5 km before the railway station of Laddowal. It all happened within a short span of say five minutes — three sleeper coaches gutted

The fire was so intense that even the insides of the toilets were gutted. The S-4 coach, believed to be the first to catch fire, was littered with steel plates and small utensils. At one place could be seen a small plate and other utensils normally used in pooja along with a small, black stone, which is worshipped as the “saligram”. The fire must have erupted suddenly and engulfed the sleeping passengers giving them little time to retrieve their belongings or escape themselves.

One high-ranking official of the Railways, when asked by this correspondent if it was possible for a burning cigarette butt to cause such an inferno, replied in the affirmative saying that ‘provided something highly inflammable was deliberately spread inside the burnt compartments’.

Several railway men, including the mechanical staff, who participated in these discussions, were unanimous that the fire must have started soon after the train left Ludhiana, most probably as soon as it passed the Damoria Bridge. They were not willing to buy the story flashed by some TV channels that some men were cooking rice and ‘rajmah’ on a stove when it burst maintaining that it were surely very odd hours for such an exercise.

A high-ranking officer of the Punjab Police, who was also present among the host of officials near the charred coaches parked in the yard, and who said that Punjab Police was not conducting any probe into the incident, also said that it was hard to believe that such a fire could be the result of an accident. Sabotage could not be entirely ruled out, he said. He agreed that even if someone tried to ignite a fire with the help of a matches, it would take at least 10 minutes to light the fire alone.



Voluntary bodies reach out to victims
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 16
Materialism in today’s world is often said to have overtaken human concern, but at the Christian Medical College and Hospital people have shown overwhelming humaneness. Cutting across all lines of cast, colour and creed, several voluntary organisations from as far as Sirsa have arrived to ameliorate the suffering of the persons caught in the blaze that engulfed three coaches of Golden Temple Mail near Ludhiana in the wee hours of yesterday morning.

The patients are satisfied with the medical care being given to them by the medical team of the CMC. Pawan Garg of the RSS, who is in charge of the Bajrang Dal, said: “After hearing the news, we reached Ladhowal around 6.30 am, brought the unhurt passengers to the station and served them with breakfast. Our team assisted the Army in carrying away the bodies to the morgue of the Civil Hospital. We arranged blocks of ice for the preservation of bodies and helped relatives in identifying their loved ones.”

When Ludhiana Tribune spoke to Mr Garg, he was at the Civil Hospital helping a family that had arrived from Satna looking for their relatives. They were assisting desolate relatives in completing the formalities, getting the papers of identification prepared.

The “sewadars” of Dukh Nivaran Gurdwara who had been serving langar daily to around 300-400 attendants of patients of Khud Mohalla fire tragedy have now extended their assistance to rail victims’ families and relatives. They served free tea and milk to the patients this morning.

Baba Onkar Das, who had been serving the injured of Khud Mohalla fire tragedy, is now taking care of new patients. He is a priest at Gurdwara of Khud Mohalla. Volunteers from Dera Sacha Sauda have also arrived from Sirsa to offer their services. Similarly, scores of volunteers are offering blood and money, besides their services.

A special CM Relief Organisations Counter has been set up in the hospital after the visit by Capt Amarinder Singh. The counter is serving rusks and biscuits to the patients. The patients have been overwhelmed by the generosity of visiting dignitaries, who leave behind fruits and other eatables for them.



Tales of unsung heroes
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 16
Leadership qualities only surface in a crisis situation and this was more than demonstrated in the calamity that resulted owing to a fire in three coaches of Golden Temple Mail on Thursday morning. If it wasn’t for these men, who demonstrated outstanding leadership skills, the number of casualties would have been much higher. But in the events that followed, some brave men got recognition, while the contribution of several went unnoticed.

Interaction with passengers, family of victims, eyewitnesses, etc. has thrown up several names who worked relentlessly to rescue fellow passengers before rescue workers could reach the spot. Some like Head Constable Ravinder Kumar were so busy saving others that they forgot about their own near and dear ones. His children perished in the fire.

The journey from Meerut to Ludhiana was quite comfortable for Head Constable Ravinder Kumar and his wife Sangeeta, who were travelling with their two children Nitin (8) and Mehima (4). When the train left the Ludhiana railway station their destination was only a few hours away till the fire was noticed and the train came to a grinding halt. “When I noticed the smoke, I tried to open the compartment door, but it was blocked by luggage. I somehow managed to move huge steel trunks,” Ravinder Kumar told Ludhiana Tribune from his hospital bed, where he is recovering from respiratory distress.

“I asked people to leave, while I stood in the doorway passing children to those who had alighted,” he said. He continued to help people till he himself got virtually choked by smoke. All this time he was oblivious of the fate of his own children.

Again, Assistant Inspector General (AIG) Railways, Mr Sohinder Singh Bawa, showed presence of mind and prevented fire from spreading to other coaches. Mr Bawa had boarded the train at Ludhiana en route to Amritsar, where he was planning to take a holy dip in the Golden Temple. “Once the train came to a halt, I noticed fire in three compartments. Instantly, I called the Ludhiana railway station from my mobile and asked for help,” he said.

He made several frantic calls to the fire station and asked for ambulance. Showing presence of mind, he asked some passengers to detach the coach S-6 from the burning coach S-5. Mr Bawa was all praise for some GRP personnel especially Head Constable Bhagwan Singh, who ran to the engine driver and asked him to move the engine in reverse to separate coach S-5 from coach S-6. “The agility shown by Bhagwan prevented the fire from spreading to coach S-6,” he said.

Mr L.R. Thapar, Chief Operations Manager, Indian Railways, Northern Region, who was himself on board the ill-fated train, contacted the railway authorities, who in turn alerted the traffic control and rushed rescue teams to the site. “We all simply did what we were supposed to do,” he said.

He said the driver and guard of the train too played an important role in the rescue work. Constable Karamjit Singh and Constable Sham Lal of the GRP, travelling on the train, were the ones who suggested that passengers threw sand on the burning coaches. These GRP personnel also rushed to a nearby tube well and woke up the owner to refill the fire tender, he said.

Similarly, Mr Narsingh, Divisional Manager Railways, Ferozepore, got his hands partially burnt in the rescue operations. The PRO of Indian Railways, Mr Rajesh Khare, too showed presence of mind and alerted several senior officers.



Enhanced ex gratia sought
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May16
The management of Gurdwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha, Khud Mohalla, today demanded that the government should pay an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the families of those killed in the recent fire incidents in Khud Mohalla and the Frontier Mail.

In a press note, the gurdwara management said the Army men, who rescued several passengers from the burning train, should be honoured and promoted. Similarly, police jawans, railway workers and firemen, who risked their lives to save passengers, should also be given promotions.

The management also suggested a number of rail safety measures

Meanwhile, the gurdwara management said the ‘bhog’ of Jaspal Singh Pappu, who lost his life in the Khud Mohalla fire, would be held at the gurdwara on Sunday from 10 am to 11 am and the ‘antim ardas’ would be held from 1 to 2.30 pm at Gurdwara Kalgidhar Singh Sabha. ‘Bhog’ of Mr Mohinder Pal Singh would be held at Gurdwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha, Khud Mohalla, on May 19 and ‘bhog’ of Bibi Gulshan Kaur would be held at the same venue from 10 am to 11 am on May 21, added the press note.



Mere spark can set Mochpura market ablaze
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 16
Ludhiana is primarily known for its woollen products. When you think of woollens, you think of Ludhiana. And what Ludhiana is to the woollen market in the region, Mochpura Bazaar is to Ludhiana. Mochpura happens to be the wool centre of not only Ludhiana but the entire region.

Hundreds of shops sell wool worth crores of rupees in this market daily during the peak season. It is difficult to walk through the market during the peak days. Long rows of woollen bales can be seen lying outside the shops in the market. An open invitation to any tragedy. A mere spark can literally set the entire market on fire within no time.

Mochpura Bazaar is the source of wool and synthetic yarn for the entire middle-rung woollen industry in the state and the region. The roads are too narrow for the reason that the market was set up over a 100 years ago. Recalls Ms Dayawati, an elderly resident of Mochpura Bazaar, “The rush of people always used to be there even before Partition, but these days it is all crowded”.

Most of the shopkeepers who were Muslims reportedly fled the city in 1947. The market could not modernise itself and some shops are as old as the market itself. Barring a few changes, the shopkeepers have not done anything else to improve them. And fire safety remains a far-off concern. Added to it is too much wood used in construction during those days which still remains there.

The shopkeepers do not like to discuss fire. Talking about fire seems to be too ominous, rather “sacrilegious” to them. “It has never happened before and it will never happen in future. Why are you so keen about it? retorted an angry shopkeeper when asked by this reporter as what preventive measures they had adopted in case there was a fire in the market, while another shopkeeper remarked, “Shubh shubh bholo” (talk sense).

The concerns of the shopkeepers seem to end just by not thinking about it. Nobody seems to be bothered. Since there was no scope for argument with the shopkeepers, it was very difficult to ask them about the measures they had adopted to tackle any eventuality. When it was pointed out to a shopkeeper that the area did not have roads wide enough to allow the passage of fire tenders, he retorted in anger, “Why do you insist that we need fire tenders…? Why are you keen to invite a fire tragedy for us”.

“Our Lord is our saviour and He has been saving us for so many years and He will continue to save us the same way and we need not worry”, sermonised a middle-aged trader. In fact he ridiculed the idea of fire extinguishers in the shops.



PSEB launches pre-paid billing scheme

Ludhiana, May 16
A good news for consumers of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), who can now deposit their bills for the entire year in one go. The ambitious pre-paid scheme for depositing electricity bills was formally launched by Mr Harjit Singh Sohi, Member Finance, here today. As many as 118 consumers availed themselves of the facility and deposited Rs 4 lakh.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Sohi stressed that the scheme had not been launched to generate additional resources for the board but to facilitate the payment of bills. “We had received a large number of suggestions from our consumers to mitigate the problems faced by the people on this account. The same was true for rural subscribers.”

He said the scheme would cover domestic, commercial and agricultural consumers besides small entrepreneurs. It would also put to rest the fear of meeting the deadline for depositing bills and save them of the surcharge levied on account of late deposit of bills and instances of disconnection. People would also not have to waste their time standing in long queues.

Mr Sohi said an added benefit was that the consumers could deposit the amount totalling the paid bills for the past six months for the coming period and earn interest at the rate of 4.5 per cent. This was 1 per cent more than the interest earned on savings accounts in banks. Separate counters had been set up all over the state at subdivision level where the consumers could deposit the money through cheques, bank drafts or bankers’ cheques, he added.

Mr Amrik Singh, Director, Billing, said the consumers who had availed themselves of the scheme would continue to receive their bills detailing the amount deposited, deducted and the balance, besides the interest incurred thereof. TNS



Former Jathedar seeks clarification from Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 16
Reacting to the excommunication of Gurbux Singh Kala Afghana for his controversial writings by Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti, former Jathedar of Akal Takht Darshan Singh Khalsa has sought clarifications from the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs on the anti-Sikh compilation in Purukh Guru, a ‘granth’ released by Namdhari sect.

In a letter to the Akal Takht Jathedar, he has said he was not casting any aspersions on the edict, but wanted to satisfy himself about the status of the granth which not only challenges the position and authority of Guru Granth Sahib, but also undermines the concept of baptism by ‘Khande Ka Pahul’ and questions the validity of Panj Piaras.

He said it was unfortunate that Akal Takht took no notice of the controversy after the publication of the granth, but took a strong exception to the writings of Kala Afghana. In fact, the SGPC had honoured some of the prominent personalities during the World Sikh Sammelan in 1994-95.

Citing some of the blasphemous statements from the granth, he said throughout the book Guru Granth Sahib has been mentioned as Sri Granth Sahib. The book also says that it is a lie that Guru Gobind Singh bestowed the status of guru on Guru Granth Sahib. It goes on to question the very concept of having an inanimate granth as guru in place of a living entity.”

He said the book also mentioned that the practice of worshipping Guru Granth Sahib began during the British rule since the Britishers were afraid of the growing popularity of Satguru Ram Singh. They impressed upon writers and sardars to spread the word that no living being could be a guru and that guru Gobind Singh had conferred the status of the last guru on Guru Granth Sahib. 



Resentment over suspension

Ludhiana, May 16
Resentment prevails among members of the PAU Safai Karamchari Union over the suspension of Mr Avinash Kumar Sharma by the varsity Vice-Chancellor. In a signed statement about 100 members said here today that he had been the victim of a deep-rooted conspiracy. TNS



Hike in industrial oil prices assailed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 16
The Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Punjab) today assailed the hike in the price of industrial oil.
Mr P.D. Sharma, President of the Chamber, said in a statement that oil companies were maintaining an indifferent attitude towards the industry. Rates of furnace oil and naptha, which are widely used by the industry, were being kept on the higher side arbitrarily. Contrary to the declining trend of oil prices in the international market, the rates of furnace oil had been increased by 0.45 paise per litre. The new rate of furnace oil had been fixed at Rs 13.29 per litre. Earlier, the rate of furnace oil had touched Rs 17 per litre which was reduced to Rs 15.26 per litre on March 31, 2003, he said.

During the first fortnight of April, the price of furnace oil was Rs 13.88 per litre. Prices in the international market had softened considerably during the first fortnight of April, but the prices of furnace oil and naptha were decreased nominally in India. Similar was the case with the prices of petrol and diesel. According to an estimate, the ICC, the BPCL and the HPCL had fleeced consumers by Rs 5 per litre for petrol bought in April.

Mr Sharma alleged that the pricing mechanism was kept a secret, although it ought to be transparent. After dismantling APM in April 2002, 16 revisions in the prices of petroleum products had been made. Four changes were for reduction and the remaining 12 resulted in hike in prices. The Standing Committee of Parliament for the Petroleum Ministry had stated that the government taxes were about 125 per cent of the basic prices. This included customs duty, Central excise and sales tax. The committee had urged the government to reduce the impact of taxes, he added.

He said the ad valorem duty on industrial oils was not justified in view of the stiff global competition. The sales tax on fuels should also be cut. The oil companies were making up the loss suffered in the sale of cooking gas and kerosene from petrol, diesel and fuels. The subsidy should come from the government exchequer, he maintained.

Mr Sharma has urged the Petroleum Minister to ensure transparency in the pricing mechanism of petroleum products.


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