Two sets of rules — one for the common man, and one for those holding Constitutional posts

When it comes to the cap on the consumption of subsidised domestic LPG cylinders, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), it appears, has two sets of rules — one for the common man, and one for those holding Constitutional posts.

While approving the cap on LPG cylinders to six per year for households, the CCEA and the Petroleum Ministry cited last year’s report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas to support its case.

It also cited the report of the Task Force headed by Nandan Nilekani on cash transfer of subsidy on kerosene, LPG and fertilizer to buttress its case.

However, the Petroleum Ministry has conveniently ignored the other part of the Standing Committee’s report where it suggested that those holding Constitutional posts, public representatives like MPs and MLAs, should not get subsidised cooking fuel and that all their supplies should be provided at the market rate. The panel had also suggested ending sale of subsidised cooking gas to households with income of over Rs. 6 lakh per annum.

The criteria for six cylinders was fixed after a survey by oil marketing companies, which states that each 14.2 kg LPG cylinder normally lasts a household for 45 to 60 days. Based on this calculation, six cylinders are considered enough to see a family through the year.

However, LPG distributor records indicate that a vast number of households are taking as many as 20 to 30 cylinders each year, a symptom of large-scale diversion of subsidised cooking gas for use in commercial establishments such as restaurants and dhabas and as auto fuel. LPG for commercial use is sold at the market price and packed in different cylinders.

The Nandan Nilekani Task Force, in its interim report, suggested ending the sale of subsidised kerosene. The project has taken off in Delhi where the Sheila Dikshit government has launched the cash transfer scheme for the beneficiaries, including those below the poverty line.

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