KERALA

Demand to check diversion of domestic LPG cylinders

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, AUG. 14. Residents' associations as well as consumer and social groups have demanded stern steps to curb what they call a thriving racket whereby subsidised LPG cylinders meant for domestic use are diverted to commercial establishments with the connivance of a section of officials of the public sector oil companies.

The demand was made at a joint press conference here today by the office-bearers of the Federation of Residents Associations Thiruvananthapuram (FRAT), the Jilla Upabhokthru Samithi, All Kerala Gulf Returnees' Organisation, Social Justice, NRI Information and Guidance Centre and the Gulf Malayali Kudumba Vedi.

Illegal profiteering

The office-bearers pointed out that the Centre was paying a subsidy of Rs.112.80 for each 14.2 LPG cylinder meant for domestic use. The domestic cylinder costs Rs.282 while the commercial cylinder, which weighs 19 kg, costs Rs.645. The commercial consumer makes a profit of Rs.372 when he opts for the domestic cylinder, while the distributor gains somewhere between Rs.100 and Rs.150 as illegal profit.

Domestic cylinders were being diverted in large numbers for use by small and large hotels, hospitals, bakeries, marriage halls, pushcart vendors and vehicles, the office-bearers said.

Tax lost

According to the office-bearers, about 7,000 domestic LPG cylinders were being diverted for commercial use in the State capital city alone in a day. This resulted in a loss of about Rs.13 lakhs a day by way of tax lost on unsold commercial cylinders and the subsidy amount for domestic cylinders. They alleged that senior officials of the public sector oil companies were also involved in the racket.

The Government should step in to check the malpractice so that sufficient supply of domestic cylinders was ensured during the Onam season.

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