With release of subsidised connections put off, consumers opt for non-subsidised, expensive refills

With the wait for new subsidised cooking gas connections from oil-marketing companies in the State growing longer, many consumers, particularly in major cities like Chennai, are forced to opt for the expensive, non-subsidised domestic connections.

 “Those requiring a connection immediately have little else to choose,” an Indane distributor says. Pushing the consumers to take this decision is also the lack of clarity on the number of subsidised cylinders, each costing about Rs. 400, they would be entitled to for the rest of the financial year, he adds. A non-subsidised domestic cylinder costs nearly Rs. 500 more.

 The government, while imposing a cap in mid-September on the number of subsidised cylinders for households, announced that a domestic consumer would be entitled to six refills in a financial year from April 2013. For the rest of the current fiscal, a household would get three subsidised cylinders.

 “We advice customers who cannot wait any more for release of new connections to go for a non-subsidised connection as the number of subsidised cylinders they would get till March could be one or maximum two,” he says.

 This situation prevails as the de-duplication work, essentially a process to eliminate multiple subsidised connections, is taking time. The oil companies launched the exercise to identify and block multiple connections after the cap. The National Informatics Centre has been entrusted with the task. The objective is to ensure that a household uses only one subsidised, double bottle (two cylinders) connection. The details of those registered for new connections were also put through the process.

 While announcing the release of new connections in a few other States, on completion of the de-duplication work, the companies said prospective consumers who had registered till October 15 would get them. New connections for those who registered later would be issued in the subsequent batches. In Chennai, new Indane connections have not been released since August 1. The number of registrations for new connections, with the three companies in the city, is estimated at 20,000.

 Confirming that those getting new connections would not get more than two cylinders till March 31, an official of Bharat Petroleum Corporation said indications were that the de-duplication work is almost complete. The announcement regarding the new connection release could be expected shortly. The oil companies were already releasing new connections in ‘monopoly’ markets (rural areas where only one distributor operates).

 On the demand for non-subsidised cylinders, he says it was coming from select pockets in the city like Adyar where IT professionals were opting for them. Indane distributors say many of their agencies had issued over 100 such connections each in the city in the last two months.

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