The UPA government on Friday launched portability of LPG connections in Chandigarh. Online booking, tracking and delivery of gas, and booking of new connections through mobile and web portal have been introduced across the country.

Launching gas connection portability, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Veerapa Moily said the service would be extended to 25 more districts in the next fiscal. However, unlike mobile services where you could change the service provider or the mobile company, an LPG consumer will have the option to change the dealer within the same distribution company but not the oil company.

For example, a consumer of Indane of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) will have the option to choose from other Indane dealers but will not be able to switch to dealers of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) or Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL). “A pool of two to three dealers will be cleared for every locality in the district. Consumers will have the option of choosing from this cluster,” Mr. Moily added.

“Dealer portability has been launched to provide better services to 13.5 crore customers and end the monopolistic practices of the cooking gas distributors,” he said.

No inter-company change

Officials said the inter-company change was not possible at this moment as the law did not permit it. The government was looking at changing the law or creating a situation where a cylinder belonging to one oil company could be returned to or re-filled by another oil company.

Mr. Moily also launched new IT/web-enabled initiative, ‘Lakshya’ to enable consumers book and track refills online as well on mobile phone. It would enhance transparency in distribution of cylinders. Under the new initiative, customers can rate their distributors on service and anybody found wanting could possibly face termination of dealership. Now each distributor is being automatically rated from 5 stars to no star on a graded scale using transaction data. The distributor who supplies 85 per cent of cylinders booked in less than two days is rated 5 stars and the distributor who supplies 85 per cent of cylinders beyond 10 days is rated with no star.

Others are rated in between according to their delivery pattern. The rating will help consumers select distributorships once portability is available.

Mr. Moily announced that the government would soon appoint 2,500 LPG distributors. The request for portability could be made electronically on the web portal and would be completed without manual intervention. Also, applications for new connections could be done online.

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