With the price of petrol crossing the Rs 100 mark, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today that the middle-class would not have been burdened if the previous governments had focussed on reducing India’s energy import dependence. Without referring to the relentless increase in retail fuel prices, which are linked to international rates, he said India imported over 85% of its oil needs in the 2019-20 financial year and nearly 53% of its gas requirement.
“Can we be so import-dependent? I don’t want to criticise anyone but want to say if had we focussed on this subject earlier, our middle-class would not have been burdened,” he said at a function to inaugurate oil and gas projects in poll-bound Tamil Nadu.
Price of petrol crossed the Rs 100 per litre mark in Rajasthan after fuel rates were hiked for the ninth day in a row. Since India imports majority of its oil needs, retail rates are benchmarked to international prices, which have spiralled in recent weeks.
Modi said his government was sensitive to concerns of the middle-class and so was focussing on raising the share of ethanol mixing in petrol.
Ethanol extracted from sugarcane will help cut imports as well as give farmers an alternate source of income.
The prime minister said India was looking to cut energy import dependence as well as diversify its sources to reduce risks.
The focus now is also towards using renewable sources of energy, which will by 2030 form 40% of the energy generated in the country, he said.
Also, the government is working towards raising the share of natural gas in the energy basket to 15% from the current 6.3% and is committed to bringing it under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime to eliminate cascading effect of multiple taxes, he added.