The West Bengal government fought vehemently to get the Centre to raise the cap on subsidised cylinders. A few other States too strove hard for this demand. Ultimately, the Centre has chosen to raise the cap to 12 cylinders (“12 cylinders will break FinMin spending cap”, Jan. 23). It has done so neither on grounds of economics nor urgency of the need but with a desperate eye on elections. If only such essential demands were acceded to as a matter of routine and not for extraneous compulsions!
Only a small percentage of households will really benefit from the raising of the number of subsidised cylinders. In truth, a large number of people use fewer than six cylinders. Such families should be given an incentive. Those using seven to nine cylinders should be given normal subsidy and only minimal subsidy if using any more.
The real victims of the cap on the number of cylinders are those who use the reticulated (pipeline) LPG system. After the cap was introduced, the pipeline LPG has been rendered around three times costlier than the subsidised cylinders. Users of piped LPG do not get the value of even nine subsidised cylinders. This situation is not based on justice and equity. As it is unlikely anyone will use more than 12 cylinders, oil-marketing companies may consider providing subsidy to pipeline users too. Else, we may witness a mass switch to cylinders and a resultant waste of the crores of rupees spent on installing pipelines in apartments.