The Petroleum Ministry on Monday said there was no proposal to increase the annual quota of subsidised cylinders from nine to 12 in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.Talking to reporters here, Petroleum Secretary, Vivek Rae said: “There is no proposal before my Ministry. I am not aware if there is any decision on raising the limit at political level.”
The speculation gained currency after the ruling UPA-II suffered setbacks in the recently held Assembly polls. The issue again came into limelight after many Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled States last week demanded that the quota of subsidised cylinders be raised. Soon after that, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram acknowledged it and said the government would look into it.
But Mr. Rae said: “As of now we are not processing or proposing any change in the quota of subsidised cylinders.”
In fact, Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily on Sunday in Kochi also made it clear that there was no proposal to raise the limit of subsidised cylinders as nearly 90 per cent of the LPG using population is covered by the nine-cylinder norm.
The government, seeking to cap the rising subsidy bill, capped the annual supply of subsidised domestic LPG cylinders limit to six per household in September 2012. The quota was raised to nine units in January 2013. State-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs) are at present losing Rs. 762.70 per cylinder on the sale of subsidised LPG and the government will have to pay higher subsidy if the quota is raised.
From January 1 this year, the government rolled-out the Direct Benefit Transfer for LPG (DBTL) scheme in 289 districts of the country for LPG-subsidised cylinders. Under the scheme, which was rolled-out in 184 districts in 18 States, cooking gas consumers get Rs. 435 advance money in their bank accounts to help them purchase a 14.2-kg LPG cylinder at market price. At present, the subsidised LPG cylinder costs Rs. 414 while the market price per bottle comes to Rs. 1,021.
The 105 districts, including nine in Delhi, Ahmedabad in Gujarat, Gurgaon in Haryana, Belgaum in Karnataka, Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai, Jodhpur in Rajasthan, Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and Murshidabad in West Bengal would be covered in the current phase.
Since the scheme’s launch in June last year, 40 million cash transfers to consumer bank accounts have taken place and over Rs. 2,000 crore have been transferred.
The scheme was launched in 20 districts on June 1, 2013 and was extended to 34 more on September 1.