Scheme in Chennai, Coimbatore by August 15
For lakhs of households in Chennai and Coimbatore switching over to a cooking gas distributor of their choice, especially of another public sector oil marketing company, is set to be a reality soon.
Making it happen will be the Union Petroleum Ministry’s web-enabled inter-company distributor portability scheme, which, oil industry sources say, will be rolled out in the two cities by August 15. Indeed, it may well be freedom for consumers who find themselves stuck with their distributor in the absence of an option to migrate to another company.
While distributor portability is available in a limited way now, within the company and at select localities, for Indane consumers in Chennai, the soon-to-be-launched scheme will give them more choices. It will be an easy online process involving a few steps for customers desirous of changing LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) agency.
There will be no manual intervention. A timeline is also likely to be prescribed within which the customer request should be processed and the job completed.
For the scheme, clusters comprising distributors of the three oil marketing companies – IOC, BPCL and HPCL – were formed recently in both the cities. The idea, according to sources, is to offer multiple choices to customers residing within a particular radius.
Inter-company portability, however, could not be launched in areas where only one or two of the oil companies have agencies. Where all three firms have distributors, the distance from the agency to the customer premises would also be a determining factor for the launch.
In Chennai, about six lakh consumers or around 20 per cent of the households using subsidised LPG would get the portability option, while in Coimbatore around three lakh of the 12 lakh customers would be covered initially. Industry sources said five clusters had been formed in Chennai. On the contentious issue of what should be done with the equipment, oil industry officials said the incumbent distributor would collect it when the customer moves to another company. The new distributor would supply the cylinder and pressure regulator at no additional cost.