The petrol price was hiked today by a record Rs 7.54 per litre as rupee had a free fall, an unpopular decision that was attacked by allies of UPA government who demanded its immediate rollback holding it as unacceptable.

The hike, the third in one year, came a day after end of the Budget session of Parliament and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaking of the need to take “difficult decisions” on the third anniversary of UPA-II.

The decision of the oil marketing companies effective midnight tonight is the steepest hike in petrol price ever, the previous increase being Rs 5 per litre.

Petrol price in Delhi has been hiked by Rs 7.54 per litre to Rs 73.18 a litre. In Mumbai it will cost Rs 78.57 per litre as against Rs 70.66 a litre. In Kolkata, Rs 77.88 per litre and Chennai Rs 77.53 a litre.

Oil firms had twice raised rates by Rs 5 per litre – on May 15, 2011 when prices in Delhi were hiked from Rs 58.37 a litre to Rs 63.37 per litre and on May 24, 2008 when rates were raised to Rs 50.56 a litre.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee maintained that the decision was taken by oil companies as petrol is a deregulated commodity.

The government had decontrolled petrol price in June 2010 but rates were last increased on November 4 last year. This despite oil price rising by 14.5 per cent and 3.2 per cent fall in value of rupee against the US dollar.

Yesterday, Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy had stated that the depreciation in rupee had necessitated an immediate increase in fuel prices.

But rates of diesel, kerosene and cooking gas have not been revised as a high-power ministerial panel headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and having representatives of key UPA allies like TMC and DMK, hasn’t met for almost a year now.

Price of diesel, kerosene and cooking gas were last raised in June last year.

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