The Union government’s move to limit subsidised domestic LPG cylinders to six a year in a bid to curb its sale on the black market has caused much heartburn among consumers.
However, it has been pointed out that the Centre was reluctant to follow Karnataka’s model in eliminating bogus LPG connections by linking consumer numbers to the electricity meter revenue register (RR) numbers. The letters written by Shobha Karandlaje, the then Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, to S. Jaipal Reddy, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, in March, April and May, urging him to evolve a similar plan at the national level, did not evoke any response, D.N. Jeevaraj, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, told The Hindu.
Mr. Jeevaraj said if the Centre had adopted the Karnataka model, it would have substantially brought down the number of illegal domestic LPG connections.
“We detected over 17 lakh illegal connections in Karnataka, the figures would have been crores across India,” he said.
In her letter dated April 9, 2012, Ms. Karandlaje told Mr. Reddy that linking RR Number with LPG consumer number had proved beyond doubt that it was a unique, effective and efficient method to identify illegal connections.
It would be wrong to assume that such illegal connections existed only in Karnataka, similar misuse of domestic LPG cylinders should be prevalent in other States too. “If a similar exercise is undertaken in all States, the large-scale misuse of domestic cylinders could be curbed,” she said.
This exercise, she said, was a corollary to the department’s effort to set up a ration card database and online processing system with the active support of the National Informatics Centre. The outcome of the effort was a robust database comprising ration cards, LPG consumers, electricity meter data and property tax data (in rural areas). Even 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 might be using the supply from one electricity meter; and many households might lawfully be using power from non-domestic electricity meters. These issues were addressed through verification of consumers’ premises, she said. Ms. Karandlaje had sent a reminder to Mr. Reddy on May 29.