After the success of pilot programmes in five metro cities, Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily on Monday allowed the sale of 5-kg cooking gas (LPG) cylinders at petrol pumps across the country.
The scheme, launched on October 5, allowed petrol pumps owned and operated by oil companies in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore to sell the 5-kg cylinders. Company owned and operated outlets make up for 3 per cent of the 47,000 petrol pumps in the country.
Now, Mr. Moily has permitted the sale of these smaller cylinders at all petrol pumps across the country, official sources said.
The smaller cylinders will be sold at market rates, which are more than double the subsidised price of Rs. 410 per 14.2-kg cylinder in Delhi.
However, the scheme will be deferred in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where Assembly Elections are being held in November and December.
The Petroleum Ministry on Monday issued orders extending the scheme to other parts of the country.
Retail outlets not owned and operated by the oil companies may be included in the scheme, subject to statutory clearances, it said. Such petrol pumps have to fulfil the safety norms and conditions provided in the scheme.
Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum own and operate a combined 1,440 outlets across the country. For the launch of the scheme, a few dozen pumps in the five cities were initially chosen.
The scheme will be a boon for the migratory population such as students, IT professionals and BPO employees, as well as people with odd work hours. It offers them the flexibility to pick up cylinders and obtain refills at the time of their choice because petrol stations are open for longer hours than LPG dealers, sources said.
The first-time purchase of a 5-kg cylinder will cost Rs. 1,000 plus taxes, while a regulator will be available for Rs. 250 and taxes. The cost of the product and refills will be based on non-subsidised rates.
An official statement said Mr. Moily has a proposal to extend the scope of the scheme for sale of non-subsidised 5-kg LPG cylinders from petrol stations (petrol pumps/retail outlets) of oil marketing companies (OMCs) in other parts of the country, subject to the Election Code of Conduct.
“This decision is expected to benefit the common man as sale of 5-kg LPG cylinders at market price with minimal documentation would facilitate easier availability of LPG at more selling points,” it said.
Traditionally, OMCs have sold LPG cylinders through their LPG distributor networks. Customers are enrolled by collecting proof of identity and address and a deposit for the cylinder and regulator.
“There is an emerging segment of new consumers like IT professionals, BPO employees who want LPG but in absence of proper proof of address cannot access the same,” the statement said.
Further, because of their irregular work timings, they may not be able to visit the distributor or be at home to receive cylinders during normal working hours. For some consumers, the need is in small parcels or arises at odd times of the day when distributors may be closed.
The initiative allows sale of 5-kg cylinders at market price to customers who provide proof of identity.