Bageshree S. and Anil Kumar Sastry

System will check diversion of cylinders

Pilot project to be introduced in Central Range

of Bangalore

When a cylinder is door-delivered, identity of the individual will be verified on a biometric reader

BANGALORE: With a view to check diversion of subsidised domestic LPG cylinders into the commercial market, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and the State Government are planning to bring LPG distribution under the proposed biometric public distribution system.

As a first step, the Ministry and the Food and Civil Supplies Department will undertake a pilot project in the Central Range of Bangalore City covering 96 public distribution (ration) shops and five LPG distributors, said sources in the department.

While the Ministry is implementing smart card system in the rest of the country for the same project, the measure taken by the Karnataka Government to introduce biometric system is a step ahead, said sources in the public sector oil companies. The State Government need not spend any money on smart cards and the present laminated ration cards will continue to stay, said the source.

Rampant misuse

The pilot project comes in the backdrop of a sizeable volume of subsidised LPG cylinders getting diverted. There is also overlap between those who take subsidised cylinders and subsidised kerosene through the Public Distribution System (PDS). Introduction of biometric system, sources said, would stop both in one stroke.

Kerosene supply

The Planning Commission had proposed, in a recent written note to the Prime Minister’s office, a reduction in the supply of subsidised kerosene to urban consumers since they have access to both subsidised kerosene and LPG, a dual subsidy.

A study by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), commissioned by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, had said that 35 per cent of PDS kerosene was diverted.

Database integration

The project in Bangalore Central range envisages comparing the data bases available with the oil companies and the State Department to detect overlap and arrive at an integrated data. It eventually hopes to arrive at a biometric system that will make it impossible for anyone to take a domestic cylinder under counterfeit identity. When a cylinder is door-delivered, the identity of the individual receiving it will have to be authenticated on a biometric reader.

Similarly, at a ration shop the authenticity of the ration card holder or members of his family will be verified through a biometric reader. As the card-holder or members of his family present the laminated ration card, the card number will be entered in the computer, which in turn will ask biometric authentication, sources said.

Sources in oil companies said measures are on to integrate LPG distribution system with public distribution system. The scheme is likely to be introduced in a couple of months, unless the Ministry insists that it should be implemented immediately, said the sources.