New Delhi | Jagran Business Desk: Facing a flank over the continuous hike in fuel prices across the country, Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Friday defended the Centre over for not giving relaxations on taxes on petrol and diesel and said that such levies are helping the government provide free vaccines cooking gas amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to reporters, Puri said that reducing taxes on petrol and diesel would be equivalent to "axing one's own feet" for the Centre. He also said that fuel prices are rising due to the volatile situation in the international market that has led to a hike in rates of bench crude.

"I think this simplistic political narrative we get in India (that), 'Prices have gone up why don't you reduce your taxes'... so every time price goes up due to something else, it says you axe your own feet in the process," Puri was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

"Yesterday we completed vaccinating one billion (against COVID), we fed 90 crore people for one full year (during the pandemic) providing 3 meals in a day, we did Ujjwala scheme. All this and much more with that Rs 32 a litre excise duty," he noted.

Also Read -- Jagran Explainer: Why petrol and diesel prices are skyrocketing in India

Petrol and diesel prices, which are revised daily by oil marketing companies (OMCs), are rising in India over the past few days and have crossed Rs 100-mark in several states and union territories (UTs), including Delhi and Mumbai.

Experts have blamed Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' decision of not increasing their output more than 0.4 million barrels per day behind the hike in rates. They have said that the rates would continue to rise till November as the OPEC+ have "reconfirmed the production adjustment plan" till then.

"We are scared of the fourth wave of corona; no one wants to make any big moves," Reuters quoted an OPEC+ source as saying.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma