Special Correspondent

Give publicity to this order in newspapers and television

BHUBANESWAR: The National Consumer Disputes Redress Commission, New Delhi, has directed the Union Petroleum and Consumer Affairs Ministries to ensure that all LPG marketing companies instruct distributors to provide the delivery man a proper scale for weighing gas cylinders in the presence of customers before delivery.

On a petition filed by the Rourkela-based Consumer Protection Council, the Commission said the Ministries should also instruct the marketing companies to publish this information by way of advertisements in vernacular as well as English and Hindi newspapers in every State, apart from television. According to the case filed by the council in 2001, the cylinders supplied to many consumers in the steel township by the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) were underweight. The organisation was represented by its secretary B. Vaidyanathan.

A subsequent survey by the council covering 48 households revealed that as against the net weight of 14.2 kg of LPG, consumers on an average were getting only 12.74 kg. Only 12.5 per cent of the refill cylinders weighed were within the tolerance range of 150 gm more or less, as prescribed in the Second Schedule of the Standards of Weights & Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules.

The Commission, in its order passed on August 16, also asked the IOC to pay Rs 50,000 to the council to meet the expenses it incurred in protecting the interest of consumers.

IIT study

During the pendency of the case, the Commission took the help of the IIT Kharagpur, whose study, concluded that carousel machines with the existing systems were incapable of delivering cylinders with the required weight.

A committee constituted by the Consumer Affairs Ministry also concluded that the semi-automatic bottling plants also needed modernisation. As of now, 58 bottling plants of different oil companies had electronic carousel systems. The remaining 120 plants would be provided with electronic filling systems on a need basis in phases over four years, according to the order.

On the Centre’s submission that modernisation of all bottling plants would be completed in the next four years, the Commission expressed the hope that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas would ensure that the job was done at the earliest.

“It may be mentioned that if it is done earlier, it would be assuring consumers that not only the Ministry of Consumer Affairs but also the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas care about the consumers," the Commission said.