Those who opted for DBTL wait for over 15 days for subsidy to be credited

Domestic gas cylinder consumers in the State are facing a bizarre situation. Thanks to the recent hike in LPG cylinder quota, customers who have not enrolled in the Direct Benefit Transfer for LPG (DBTL) scheme are paying close to Rs.433 a cylinder. On the other hand, those who already possess the Aadhaar card and have linked it to their bank accounts shell out Rs.1,200 for each cylinder, but face a delay of more than 15 days for the subsidy amount to be credited.

Needless to say, consumers are regretting their decision to opt for the DBTL.

“I paid over Rs.1,200 for a cylinder but it takes more than 15 days for the subsidy to be credited. When I met the gas agency officials, they maintained that the payment would be delayed by more than a fortnight,” says V. Neelima, a housewife from Ramnagar in Warangal.

Customers complain that since January 31, when the Central government decided to increase the quota of subsidised cylinders from nine to 12, the release of subsidy amount to bank accounts has not taken place.

Many also criticise the apparent lack of clarity from authorities in implementing the scheme.

“First, the government said Aadhaar was compulsory and later it said those with a bank linkage would get the refund. The subsidy amount, however, is not being credited on time. At the same time, those who have not linked their Aadhaar card to banks are receiving cylinders at Rs.433,” bemoans Pavan Seth, a consumer from Visakhapatnam’s MVP Colony.

Many have called for more clarity on the issue.

“It is high-time the government clarify on its policy,” feels J.L.N. Kumar, former president of Visakhapatnam LPG Dealers’ Association. The situation is no different in Vijayawada, where a majority of consumers are forced to pay Rs.1,215 for a cylinder and then face inordinate delays for subsidy reimbursement.

Gas agencies in Krishna district pointed out that there was no mechanism to monitor the transfer of subsidy to consumers’ bank account.

In Guntur, implementing authorities and gas agencies are swamped with customer enquiries on delay of reimbursement.

“Consumers in the unorganised sector, including daily-wagers and private employees, are not in a position to pay Rs.1, 230 per cylinder. Since February 1, the reimbursement has completely stopped,” says CPI district secretary, Muppalla Nageswara Rao.

Gas dealers in Kurnool have maintained that despite the Centre’s decision to de-link Aadhaar and bank accounts, oil company officials continue to pressurise them on the matter.Customers, however, are unhappy.

“We have paid Rs.1,237 a cylinder. But so far, the subsidy amount has not been credited, and authorities here have not come up with a cogent and clear explanation,” says housewife and Kurnool resident Sridevi.

The condition is no different in Kakinada, where Aadhaar-linked services were first launched on a pilot basis. According to data available, 92 per cent LPG connections have been linked to Aadhaar and banks. Despite the high penetration, a large number of complaints on delay in reimbursement continued to pour in during weekly ‘grievance cell’ programmes.

P. Venkateswara Rao, president, A.P State Gas Distributors Association, maintained that the delay in release of subsidy is not the fault of gas agencies.

“It is quite understandable customers are blaming gas agencies for the delay. However, they should realise that the delay is due to lack of clarity from authorities in New Delhi,” he said.

While acknowledging the problems, gas authorities are hoping for a quick resolution. “We are awaiting directives on the issue from New Delhi and are in touch with the Oil Ministry officials. We hope for a quick redressal,” assures State LPG Gas Co-ordinator, Madhukar Ingole.

[With inputs from K.N. Murali Sankar (Kakinada), G.V. R. Subba Rao (Vijayawada), Santosh Patnaik (Visakhapatnam), Gollapudi Srinivas Rao (Warangal), Rajulapudi Srinivas (Guntur), D. Sreenivasulu (Kurnool)]

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