By Ajay Modi
Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) consumers might soon get to exercise an option to not get any subsidised cylinders. Their reward would be to figure in a prominent list on gas transparency portals.
The pilot project by oil marketing companies to test direct subsidy transfer in Mysore is offering this option to 570,000 consumers.
The transparency portal, launched in June, made public the information related to the LPG subsidy being availed by every single consumer. The portal prominently flashes a link saying 'High Consumption Consumers' and has brought out names of such consumers, mostly politicians and industrialists, out in the open.
Under the new plan, the portal is likely to have another link pointing to consumers outside the LPG subsidy. "We have come across several well-to-do consumers who are in favour of giving up subsidised LPG. Such names will be flashed prominently on the portal, so that no one misuses their connections," said an Indian Oil official. The portal reveals that while politicians consumed up to 185 cylinders in a year each, the average usage of other consumers ranged between 10 and 12 only.
Topping the list of LPG connections is the late O P Jindal, the father of Congress MP Naveen Jindal and industrialist Sajjan Jindal, with 184 cylinders at their 6, Prithviraj Road, address in the capital. Another name, of a Prabha Devi Rawat is mentioned at the same address. There are 185 cylinders against her name, taking the total number ordered from the bungalow to a whopping 369 cylinders between June 2011 and May 2012.
With a little over 80 per cent Aadhaar coverage, Mysore district was chosen for a pilot scheme linking the Unique Identification Authority ID numbers with domestic LPG supply, to prevent misuse of subsidised gas. The project began around August last year and aims to test the efficacy of direct subsidy transfer on domestic LPG. Oil companies charge Mysore consumers a price that is Rs 10 a cylinder higher than in other districts in the state and this amount gets credited back to the consumer's Aadhar-linked account.
On September 13, the central government limited the number of subsidised cylinders for each consumer to six every year. Compared to a subsidised price of Rs 410.43 a cylinder in Delhi, the market-linked price is Rs 894.
The country has around 140 million domestic LPG consumers. About 12 million customers were added in 2011-12, a growth of around 10 per cent.
The government spent Rs 30,000 crore on LPG subsidy in 2011-12.