V. Venkatasubramanian

Distributors say it will hit their business badly

KANCHEEPURAM: Distributors for domestic LPG cylinders are finding themselves on a sticky wicket following an instruction issued by the public sector oil companies to ensure that each family card was provided with one LPG connection only.

A pamphlet issued to the customers of Indane Gas (a subsidiary of public sector oil company - IndianOil Corporation) here at Kancheepuram states that "as per the existing policy one family card is entitled for one gas connection with two cylinders only from any one of the public sector oil companies."

Thus customers having more than one LPG connection for their family were advised to surrender the additional connection to the distributors of the respective oil companies, failing which supplies would be cancelled, it added.

Meanwhile, the LPG distributors, who are already facing the ire of customers in view of the enforcement of `one refill per month' system adopted by the public sector oil companies, were keeping their fingers crossed since such a step would heavily erode their assured monthly revenue.

Alleging that the oil companies might have taken this decision primarily to meet the spurt in demand for new LPG connections, a distributor in this business for more than two decades, said reducing the number of prospective buyers in one stroke in order to accommodate `not-so-regular' buyers would be a suicidal act.

Further, the efforts hitherto initiated and succeeded to an extent by the oil companies to identify and eliminate `bogus' LPG-connections and check diversion of domestic LPG cylinders for commercial use, would be futile as majority of new customers might resort to black-marketing of the same.

Expressing a similar view another LPG distributor said the "existing" policy could be enforced strictly after making guaranteed availability of gas cylinders for usage in small and medium business establishments and in LPG driven vehicles at an affordable cost. This would not only help check diversion of domestic gas cylinders for commercial use and also help check erosion of surplus fund of respective PSUs in view of the Union Government's decision to suspend issuance of subsidy to domestic gas cylinders from the year 2005, he pointed out.