However, each cylinder will cost nearly Rs. 1,200

The Education Department, which was worried about the six-cylinder cap on LPG supplied for its midday meal scheme, has to now deal with a much bigger shock.

In its letter to the Joint Director of Midday Meal Scheme dated October 4, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) has “clarified” that there will be no cap on supply of LPG cylinders to schools, but that every cylinder will have to be bought at nearly thrice the price of what a domestic one costs since it is “non-domestic” category.

The cost of each cylinder of 14.2 kg for October is pegged at Rs. 1,177.50, according to the release. (This was further raised to Rs. 1,191.50 after the recently announced hike.) It was Rs. 1,016 in September. The prices will vary every month. As opposed to this, a subsidised domestic cylinder for the month of October costs Rs. 419.50.

The letter says that distributors have been asked to raise bills for the differential amounts for the refills supplied since September 18.

The current rates has huge implications for the Akshara Dasoha midday meal scheme of providing hot meals to children from Class 1 to 10 in government and governm ent-aided schools. This will also mean a hike in fuel expenditure in hospitals, canteens attached to government offices, messes of police and defence establishments, anganwadis and child welfare centres, charitable institutions among others, which also fall under the same price category. Earlier, cylinders were sold to the schools’ midday meal cooking on a par with domestic rates, which was about Rs. 450 in the month of August.

Following the Centre’s announcement of six-cylinder cap in September, the Education Department was bracing itself to pay higher rate (of about Rs. 750) for cylinders bought above the ceiling. However, the new “clarification” has shocked the department.

An official of IOCL said that the clarification was necessary because there was a lot of confusion among beneficiaries after the re-classification of who is eligible and who is not to get subsidised LPG cylinders. B.G. Nayak, Joint Director of Midday Meals, said that the fuel allocation per meal of 56 paise for Class 1 to Class 5 category and 84 paise for Class 6 to Class 10 category was grossly inadequate under the revised prices. However, in the present scenario, the expenditure on fuel will go up by about 200 per cent. “We have a little breathing time to think how to handle this because mid-term holidays are here,” he said. Education Secretary Kumar G. Nayak said that this issue had been raised by the Human Development Minister with the Petroleum Ministry.

In Karnataka, 64.2 lakh children benefit from the Akshara Dasoha scheme in 56,083 schools. While the cost is shared by the Centre and the State from Class 1 to 8, the cost for meals to children in Class 9 and Class 10 is borne by the State government.

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