Collector says he was unaware; there was no communication

Confusion marked the launch of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) for LPG scheme in Ariyalur district on Tuesday. Ariyalur is the first district in the State to be brought under the scheme.

While distributors refrained from delivering LPG refills, many consumers wondered how they would get their cooking gas in the absence of Aadhaar number. The Collector, E. Saravanavelraj, said he was unaware of the launch as there was no communication to the district administration.

Residents of Ariyalur district had been complaining about the slow progress of Aadhaar coverage in all forums. They wanted the Collector to intervene and expedite the coverage. Mr. Saravanavelraj was of the view that he did not have any role to play in the biometric enrolment process as it was a Central government scheme.

R. Ulaganathan, district secretary, Communist Party of India, alleged that about 45 per cent of people, most of whom had migrated to other districts for work and higher studies, had been left out. He wanted the district administration to ensure cent per cent coverage as failure to do so might deny people of government benefits in future.

Consumers were hopeful that the Union government would put the DBT scheme on hold following the appeal made by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and in the light of the recent Supreme Court interim order making it clear that no benefit should be mandatorily linked with Aadhaar number. Unlike other districts, Ariyalur does not have many distributors for LPG. They are located only in two places – Ariyalur and Jayankondam. The distributors, who have been accepting photocopies of Aadhaar card and bank passbook from consumers for the linkage in the last few weeks, did not deliver refills on Tuesday.

Though officials in the Indian Oil Corporation’s regional office here said that the DBT scheme had gone on stream, distributors of Ariyalur district did not retail refills. One distributor said billing with the new price of Rs. 1049.50 per refill would begin on Thursday or Friday. Consumers, who approached the distributors for delivery of refills citing emergency requirement, were turned away. The oil companies had informed their LPG distributors about the launch of DBT in advance. One distributor said he was asked to keep ‘zero stock’ and start delivery afresh. However, bookings for refills were taken from consumers over phone and in person by the distributors. They were told to wait for a couple of days for delivery to resume.