Prevailing system of dual billing to continue till February 28
The supply of subsidised cooking gas cylinders to consumers who have not yet seeded their Aadhaar number with their bank accounts and LPG consumer number is likely to be restored on Saturday with oil companies gearing up to rollback the change in their billing software to pre-January 1 mode by Friday midnight.
With this, two types of bills will be back as until December 31 – one bill for the non-subsidised rate of more than Rs. 1,000 for those who have seeded their Aadhaar whereby the subsidy component would be credited to their bank accounts and the other one for the subsidised cylinders for about Rs. 450 for those who have not yet seeded their Aadhaar numbers.
Oil companies eliminated the latter type of bill from their software in the absence of any instruction from the Union Petroleum Ministry initially to extend the rollout of Aadhaar-based Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG subsidy (DBTL) beyond December 31, thus leaving only non-subsidised cylinders in the market. LPG consumers were required to buy the cylinder at the non-subsidised rate with only those who have seeded their Aadhaar getting the subsidy component through bank accounts.
The decision to restore the old billing system comes in the wake of Union Petroleum Ministry’s direction to grant a further two-month extension from January 4 to February 28 for the remaining LPG consumers to seed their Aadhaar number.
“On Thursday, we delivered domestic cooking gas cylinders at non-subsidised rates to only those who have seeded their Aadhaar with LPG and bank accounts since extension of time for the launch of DBTL will come into effect only on Saturday. We hope to restore supply to all category of consumers from Saturday,” said Jose K., an LPG dealer at Vazhakkala.Bottling plant
The bottling plant of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) at Udayamperur didn’t operate on Friday as stock from the previous days after the dealers declined to take supply following the confusion over the extension of time for seeding Aadhaar remained to be cleared.
The piled up stock of more than 50 loads, a mix of subsidised and non-subsidised, was eventually cleared from the plant.
The plant with an installed capacity of 130-140 loads a day, is expected to operate normally from Saturday. The non-operation of the plant on Friday is unlikely to create a backlog as such, since the fall in bottling was matched by a period of corresponding drop in demand.
The plants of Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum in the district with an installed capacity of about 90 loads and 12,000 cylinders a day did function on Friday. But the oil companies felt that the actual delivery at households may have been affected owing to prevailing protests from various quarters. The CPI (M) staged a dharna in front of the BP’s plant at Ambalamugal but without disrupting the operation of the plant.