Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Monday termed the reason for fuel price hike as unjustifiable when there is no change in the international price of crude oil.

PMK founder S Ramadoss accused the central government and the oil marketing companies of cheating the public. The statements came as oil companies on Sunday hiked the prices of petrol and diesel by 36 paise and 90 paise respectively.

Jayalalithaa said it was unjustifiable to hike the fuel prices citing the exchange rate between Indian rupee and the US dollar and also the international prices of petrol and diesel when there is no change in the crude oil prices in the international market.

Citing the central government's hike of the excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs.1.60 and 40 paise per litre last week, Jayalalithaa said the hike in retail prices of fuel is not right.

It was unacceptable to decide the prices of fuel based on the exchange rate as the dollar prices change as per demands. Demanding the rollback of the recent fuel price hike, Jayalalithaa urged the central government to change the manner of pricing oil.

Ramadoss said contrary to the claims of the central government and oil companies, the crude prices in the international market have come down from $44.72 per barrel to $42.41 on 13 November.

Ramadoss said petrol and diesel were retailed at Rs. 41.25 and Rs. 29.30 per litre in 2004 when the international price of crude oil per barrel was $43.05. The current price of crude oil per barrel in the international market being $42.41, reduction in fuel prices is warranted.

Currently, the petrol and diesel are sold at a price higher by Rs. 20 per litre. This is clearly a burden on the people, Ramadoss said.

Instead of reducing the fuel prices on 1 November, the oil companies hiked the petrol and diesel prices by 40 paise and Re.1 respectively.

Referring to the latest excise duty hike on fuel, Ramadoss said, "The oil companies then said they would bear the increased duty. But now they have increased the prices."

"In totality, the central government and the oil companies have jointly cheated the people," he said. The central government owned Indian Oil Corporation on 15 November announced hike in petrol and diesel prices.

"The current level of international product prices of petrol and diesel and INR-USD exchange rate warrant an increase in prices, the impact of which is being passed on to the consumers with this price revision," Indian Oil said in a statement on Sunday.

The oil marketer said the price of petrol per litre from Monday will be Rs. 61.06 in Delhi, Rs. 66.39 in Kolkata, Rs. 68.13 in Mumbai and Rs. 61.38 in Chennai.

Diesel will cost Rs. 46.80 a litre in Delhi, Rs. 50.29 in Kolkata, Rs. 54.04 in Mumbai and Rs. 48.00 in Chennai.