Transparent LPG Cylinders Soon to Keep a Tab on Gas Quantity
The government is planning to introduce transparent cooking gas cylinders that will make it almost impossible for vendors to deliver lower-than-promised quantity and address one of the biggest complaints of liquefied natural gas (LPG) consumers.
Officials said this will be a big step to raise the quality of service following the direct cash transfer and subsidy surrender campaigns that aimed mainly at plugging leakage and improving the government's finances.
Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan favours an early rollout of the scheme, said officials with direct knowledge of the matter. They said the minister, along with oil ministry officials, discussed the plan with executives of state-run fuel retailing corporations IndianOil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum.
A transparent cylinder is likely to cost `2,500-3,000, almost double the regular steel cylinder, for which LPG distributors charge `1,400 as security deposit.
Some executives raised concern over the price, saying it may deter consumers. But the minister told oil companies not to get bogged down by the higher cost, arguing that if all subscribers were so price sensitive they wouldn't have given up their share of subsidy, officials said. Subscribers are looking for quality and would appreciate an honest delivery even if it came at a higher price, the minister is said to have told the executives.
Nearly 35 lakh households have given up their share of subsidy following appeals by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and actor Amitabh Bachchan in a high-voltage campaign for months. India has a little over 18 crore LPG consumers, of which nearly 15 crore households have already agreed to get their share of gas subsidy directly in their bank accounts, helping the government in its effort to block diversion of subsidised cylinders for commercial use.
Consumers are routinely frustrated at vendors delivering much less than the promised amount of gas in cylinders. The companies expect all vendors to carry a weighing machine with them. But often the spring balance is rigged.
The roll-out could begin as early as March 2015, with initial stock of transparent cylinders likely to be imported. The steel cylinders displaced by the new ones will be put to use in the rural areas where residents are fairly under-served. About two-thirds of Indians live in villages but the number of cooking gas consumers in rural areas are 40 percent less than that in urban areas.