Gummala Venkateswarlu (45), a tobacco farmer from the remote Peridepi village in Prakasam district, had bought his dream motorcycle — a Royal Enfield — in 2018 on which he would ride to nearby towns to buy farm input and sell his produce.
Now, however, he has sold off his cherished possession with a heavy heart as he can no longer afford it thanks to the exorbitant fuel costs. He now goes around on a modest 100-cc motorcycle as he struggles to meet household expenses which too have gone up thanks to the cascading effect of rising fuel prices.
Over 600 families in his village share a similar fate, he says, as there is not a single house without a motorcycle. Now a big farmer, Rayapatti Venkata Rao, who has over 40 acres of land, is the only one in the village who owns the prized motorcycle. All of them say the fuel price cut is too little, and has come too late.
“Owning a motorcycle is no longer a luxury but an aboslute necessity,” observes Mr. Venkateswarlu’s wife G. Subhashini, who rides pillion on his motorcycle to their farm. All households in the village had switched over to cooking gas stoves on a saturation basis thanks to the Deepam scheme. With cooking gas price doubling to almost ₹1,000 per cylinder, firewood is back in the kitchen.
People’s incomes have fallen by 20% in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each family in the village is saddled with debts ranging from ₹2 lakh to ₹6 lakh. All sources of finance have dried up and nobody is ready to give us loans even to meet emergency health expenses,” laments a landless labourer Angulakurthi Subba Rao.
CPI(M) district secretary Punati Anjaneyulu said that India should ignore US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela and import crude oil from these countries to reduce the cost of crude oil in the interest of the toiling masses. The State government should also resort to tax cuts, he said.