New Delhi: Faced with strong opposition to its move to cap the number of subsidised cooking gas cylinders per household per year, the government on Friday hinted it was considering a revision of the controversial decision.
"We are applying our mind to it. I will discuss with the prime minister and the finance minister by how much to increase (raise the cap)," Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily told the Lok Sabha during question hour.
Government sources said a decision on revising the cap could not be taken until Dec 17, when the second phase of Gujarat assembly polls ends.
However, the minister also said that "the compulsion for imposing the cap was clear".
According to the minister, even with the cap of six subsidised LPG cylinders per household per year, the government still had a subsidy burden of Rs 36,000 crore per year on its oil import bill.
The total oil subsidy was around Rs 1.64 lakh crore, he said.
BJP member and Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj termed the move "anti-people".
"The government is responsible for high food prices. Now they have made cooking fuel costlier. The decision to cap LPG cylinders is wrong," she said.
Sushma Swaraj said the irrational move had brought a large number of citizens under financial stress.
"How can a family of five manage with just six subsidised cylinders a year?" she asked.
While many political parties supported her view, the Trinamool Congress members rushed to the speaker's podium demanding a rollback of the decision.
Trinamool leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said the number should be hiked to 24 cylinders a year.
Samajwadi Party leader Shailendra Kumar wanted a debate on the issue.
SAD member Harsimrat Kaur complained to the government about distribution bottlenecks, saying people were facing difficulties because of it.
"We have received many representations on the issue," Moily said.
Moily said oil companies were under tremendous pressure as they were facing losses due to an increase in international prices of crude oil.