Oil companies put on hold plans to expand LPG distributors’ network across the country
Cooking gas consumers would have to wait for several more months for improved services after the decision of State-owned oil companies to put on hold plans to expand the LPG distributors’ network across the country.
After inviting applications for increasing the distributors, including 545 in Andhra Pradesh, the move had been kept in abeyance.
The applications received by the three oil companies—Bharat Petroleum, Indian Oil Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation in the State were being returned, said Madhukar Ingole, Chief Regional Manager, HPC and State-level coordinator for LPG distribution. It was planned to add another 7,000 dealers to the existing 11,000-odd in the country.
Of them, 1107 dealerships are in Andhra Pradesh. He said the Petroleum Ministry has decided to keep the process in abeyance, review and subsequently a fresh advertisement would be issued.
P. Venkateshwar Rao, President of AP LPG Distributors Association, which had petitioned the Ministry to take up expansion after developing infrastructure and streamlining existing network, said they were not against increasing the number of dealers.
He said the oil companies initially planned to add 125 new distributors in the State but revised it to 545 later. He said nearly 25-30 per cent of the distributors in the State had not reached their viable limit. For instance, in Dornakal two dealers were supplying 300-600 refills a month. With a commission of Rs.26 on each subsidised cylinder, how could a distributor survive? he asked.
He said they had requested the Ministry to work out the economics and appoint new dealers after ensuring that the existing ones reached their viability limits.
Mr. Rao said currently there were 1.06 crore LPG consumers in the State, including 50,000 under Deepam scheme. The distributors were making 55,000 to 60,000 door deliveries daily and the complaints were just around 1.5 per cent.
Asked about the delay of up to three weeks in providing refills, he said it was mostly due to lack of timely supplies by the corporations.
Depending on the population, the ceiling limit was fixed for each LPG distributor. It is 15,000 a month in Hyderabad, 10,000 in Vijayawada and 8,000 in Warangal.