Kerala hotels down shutters due to gas price hike

Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala), Jan.3 : The Hotel and Restaurant Association in Kerala on Friday observed a dawn-to-dusk closure of hotels to protest against the steep hike in price of non-subsidised cooking gas in the state.

On January 2, oil companies increased the price of LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) cylinders by rupees 220, one of the sharpest ever hikes aimed at shifting the burden of higher global prices on consumers.

In Thiruvananthapuram District, all hotels and restaurants, including some tea kiosks, remained closed.

The strike began early morning on Friday and is expected to continue till evening.

"The shops are all closed. This has been done considering hike in price of non-subsidised cooking gas (LPG). We have announced a 12-hour protest against this. This is a group protest. It started early morning 6 a.m. (IST) and will continue till evening 6 p.m. (IST)," said a hotel owner, Muhammed Sali.

"The residents are facing the most due to this protest. Due to gas price hike announced by the ruling Congress party, the shops in the markets have all shut down. So people like us, who come to the town due to daily requirements, are left helpless," said Sathasivan, a resident.

The port city of Kochi in Kerala also protested against the steep price hike announced by petroleum companies as the markets remained closed and agencies distributing LPG cylinders suspended their orders.

The decision comes at a time when oil companies have made it clear that domestic cooking gas consumers, who have not linked their Unique Identification Card Number to LPG connection number and bank account within the given grace period, would not be eligible for subsidised cylinders.

India, the world's fourth-biggest oil consumer, is considering a 3 rupee to 5 rupee hike in the price of diesel, which accounts for more than 40 percent of fuel use, government officials said last week, as the country looks to cut import costs by nearly USD 20 billion to trim a record current account deficit.

Fuel price rises generally provoke stiff resistance from opposition parties, and any increase now is expected to draw a bigger protest as India approaches a general election due by May 2014.

--ANI (Posted on 03-01-2014)

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