Trans­par­ent LPG Cylin­ders Soon to Keep a Tab on Gas Quan­tity

Resource Digest - - CONTENTS -

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.

Dharmendra Prad­han

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