Tough times lie ahead for gourmands in the city. Thanks to the steep rise in gas prices, restaurant owners are now mulling plans to shift the entire burden on patrons, by increasing prices on their menus. As a last ditch effort before taking this drastic step, a restaurant association is in the process of drafting a petition for the new petroleum minister, seeking permission to use household gas cylinders, which are available at cheaper rates than the commercial ones.
“We are requesting the Petroleum Minister to help the ailing hotel industry by directing the gas companies to charge reasonable rates or repeal the Essential Commodities Act for hoteliers and allow them to use 14- kg non-subsidised cylinders, so that we can survive and serve. Due to the hike in prices of cylinders used in hotels, hoteliers who have been running their establishments for decades are finding it difficult to stay afloat. If our demands are not met, we have to raise prices. A minimum of three to four cylinders is required on a daily basis,” said Sudhakar Shetty, president, Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR). Gas companies now charge Rs 850 for 14-kg cylinders at the subsidised rate of Rs 60 per kg, whereas the 19-kg cylinders, which are sold to hotels without subsidy, are made available for Rs 1,620.
“It is a huge difference. Why are we exploited? The government should also give us some relief in the form of rebates; we are already reeling under huge debt thanks to various hikes made by the government. Now the gas cylinder prices are killing us. An Udipi restaurant requires at least three to four cylinders per day but these prices will destroy us. The hike in gas cylinder prices coupled with high inflationary trends have been affecting the hotel industry very badly and compelling hoteliers to shut down their businesses,” said a restaurant owner from Fort.