Even as the Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, Veerappa Moily on Friday said the government was actively looking into the demands of further raising the cap of six subsidised (LPG) cylinders per household, Congress MPs have represented Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh to hike the cap to 12 cylinders per household per year.
In a written reply in Parliament, Mr. Moily said representations have been received to revise the annual cap of six subsidised cylinders which was being looked into. ``Any requirement beyond the six subsidised cylinders is currently priced at Rs. 895.50 per 14.2 Kg bottle in Delhi,’’ he added. The government had on September 13 decided to restrict the supply of subsidised LPG to 6 cylinders to every household in a year. Any requirement beyond this had to be purchased at market rates which are more than double the subsidised price of Rs. 410.50 per bottle in Delhi.
On the other hand, Congress MPs have given a representation to Dr. Singh requesting that the government should review the six LPG cylinders limit for the subsidised category and it should be raised to 12 cylinders per household in a year. ``A large number of Congress MPs were of the view that the limit of six cylinders was a bit less and that should be hiked to 12 cylinders. The Prime Minister has been urged to give a sympathetic consideration to the demands of the MPs who have submitted a written representation to him in Parliament,’’ Congress MP, Mahabal Mishra said.
The present drive by the OMCs to submit the KYC details will end on November 30 which will give a clear picture about the number of fraudulent or ghost connections. ``The government is assessing the ``political damage’’ that decision has caused if compared to the subsidy outgo on these LPG cylinders. The government will save around Rs. 14,000 crore through six cylinder cap a year. The detection of ghost connections, which is likely to run into crores, is likely to save the exchequer around Rs. 6000 to Rs. 7000 crore. Therefore the net saving of subsidy outgo is likely to be around Rs. 7,000 crore which was not worth the political damage such a decision is likely to cause to the ruling combine,’’ a senior Government functionary said.
The Hindu had first reported on October 31 that the government had unearthed as many as three crore “ghost” domestic cooking gas connections (out of a total of 14 crore) following the launch of the transparency portal by the Petroleum Ministry. These connections caused a subsidy leakage of about Rs. 12,000-15,000 crore every year which will now be plugged saving precious money for the government. Assuming an average consumption of 7.5 cylinders per connection every year, there has been a diversion of more than 22 crore domestic subsidised cylinders for commercial purpose every year.
In fact, the oil marketing companies (OMCs) are presently weeding out consumers having multiple connections. They have generated a list of suspected customers who have multiple connections and the customers have been asked to submit the Know-Your Customer (KYC) form to the LPG distributors to prove their genuineness. OMCs have till date 55, 41,887 LPG connections during ongoing KYC drive, in an effort to stop diversion of subsidised domestic LPG.
Mr. Moily said for the purpose of issue of subsidised LPG, a family is considered to be consisting of husband, wife, unmarried children and dependent parents living together in a dwelling unit having common kitchen. Multiple LPG connections in different names at the same address and same-name-same-address have been allowed by converting them into market priced supplies, he added.