NGO Centre for Science and Environment said Thursday's petrol price hike will further push demand for diesel vehicles which, in turn, will have an adverse effect on air quality and health of citizens in urban areas.
“The government has been hiking petrol prices at regular intervals. But it is ignoring the impact of diesel consumption on public health in the form of rising levels of killer particles and ozone,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director-research and head of CSE's air pollution control team.
Oil firms effected yet another hike in petrol prices by more than Rs.3 per litre - barely three months after the last raise.
Diesel cars comprise 36 percent of new car sales in India and the figure is expected to touch 50 per cent very soon.
"It is even more worrying that in the compact car segment - that are more numerous and popular -- diesel cars are already half of all car sales. Cheap diesel is not only worsening the public health risk, but also encouraging more motorisation and congestion," she said.
Cars use up 15 percent of the total diesel in the country - compared to 12 percent by buses and agriculture, 10 percent by industry and 6 percent by the railways, said the CSE.