Karnataka government conveyed to the centre its ‘success’ story of eliminating bogus LPG connections

The central government’s move to limit domestic LPG cylinders to curb black-marketing and to reduce subsidy has come even after Karnataka government conveyed to the centre its ‘success’ story of eliminating bogus LPG connections by linking LPG consumer numbers to electricity meter numbers.

While the decision by the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gases to limit subsidised LPG cylinders to six per year has caused many a heart burns, the Karnataka government through its silent exercise had detected over 17 lakh bogus LPG connections. There were few people who complained about stopping of LPG supply upon being detected of having more than one connection.

The then Karnataka Minister for Food and Civil Supplies and Power Shobha Karandlaje had written three letters to Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gases S. Jaipal Reddy, in March, April and May, highlighting the outcome of her department and urging him to evolve an action plan at the national level in this regard.

However, none of these letters elicited response from Mr. Reddy, D.N. Jeevaraj, the present Food and Civil Supplies Minister told The Hindu. Mr. Jeevaraj said if the centre had adopted the Karnataka model pan-India, it would have substantially brought down the number of illegal domestic connections.

"We have detected over 17 lakh illegal connections in Karnataka alone; the figures would have been in several crores across India," he said. Asked why stopping of domestic LPG cylinder supply to bogus connections was discontinued, Mr. Jeevaraj said, "We did not want the curbs in Karnataka alone."

Effective method

In her letter dated April 9, 2012, Ms. Karandlaje, presently Minister for Power, told Mr. Reddy that linking of RR Number with LPG consumer number proved beyond doubt that the exercise embarked upon by the state Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department was something unique, effective and efficient method to identify illegal and unlawful connections.

It would be wrong to assume that such illegal connections exist only in Karnataka; similar misuse of domestic LPG cylinders should be going on in other states. If similar exercise is undertaken in all the states, large scale misuse of domestic cylinders could be curbed, she said.

Ms. Karandlaje said, "But this calls for a National policy. I therefore request you to evolve an action plan at the national level to implement similar exercises in all the states of the country."

Robust database

This exercise, she said, was a corollary to Department’s effort to set up a ration card database and online processing system with the active support of National Informatics Centre (NIC). The outcome of the effort was a robust database comprising of ration cards, LPG consumers, electricity meter data and property tax data (in rural areas). Even the public sector oil marketing companies in Karnataka did not have such a database, the Minister said.

She said while asking consumers to upload RR numbers, the Department was aware that all households did not have electricity supply; more than one household may be availing supply from one electricity meter; and many households may lawfully be using power from non-domestic electricity meters. These issues were addressed through physical verification of consumers’ premises, she said. Ms. Karandlaje also sent a reminder to Mr. Reddy on May 29. She had first written to Mr. Reddy on March 7.