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Pradhan attacks Cong over leak of LPG data

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: February 21, 2019  | 20:07 IST

New Delhi, Feb 21 (PTI) Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan Thursday launched a blistering attack on the Congress over allegations of leakage of Aadhaar numbers of LPG users, saying the leaders of opposition party were creating doubts on "temples" of energy of Indian economy through fabricated claims. He denied any breach of privacy or leak of Aadhaar number of domestic cooking gas (LPG) users saying "all data is safe and secure." "There is no leak, no violation of privacy at all," he said at a function organised to give out first batch of 2,582 letters for allotment of petrol pumps out of the 78,493 that were advertised in November. Pradhan said he had got the claim of a security lapse and leak of Aadhaar numbers of LPG users of Indian Oil Corp (IOC), which were first made by a French hacker, examined by the company. "We found no breach in security and systems," he said charging the Congress of using the claim made by the French hacker to cast doubts on India's blue-chip oil companies which have during all times ensured steady supply of auto and cooking fuels to every nook and corner of the country and without disruption fed needs of security apparatus. "These are fabricated claims," he said. "Who were you doubting? IOC? The company which has consistently delivered fuel in all weather conditions at the highest mountain peaks in Ladakh. Or BPCL which ensured there is no disruption in LPG supplies when Kerala was inundated by floods. These companies ensured kerosene, LPG and petrol and diesel is supplied when Chennai was under floods. They airlifted fuel to blockade-hit Manipur without bothering about cost," he said. Oil companies, he said are not political tools. "They are institutions. Temples of energy, Church of energy, Dargah of energy. You can have doubts over the priest but have you ever heard of doubts being cast on the temple, church or a mosque?" he asked. Without naming Congress president Rahul Gandhi, he said: "Yuvraj's party does not have faith in India and so is creating such doubts." Pradhan handed over letters of intent (LoI) to successful applicants for 2,582 places. In all, 78,493 locations were advertised for setting up of petrol pumps and interest sought from those owning lands. About 75,000 sites were applied for by close of the deadline in January. After processing, the first batch of allotments has been done. The remaining allotments will be done over the next 4-5 months, he said. "It has been traditionally seen that the strike rate of sites advertised being converted into actual petrol pumps after necessary formalities and scrutiny has been 15 per cent. We are targeting 25-30 per cent this time which means 20,000 petrol pumps will come up. Each petrol pump employs 10 persons so it will create 2 lakh direct jobs," he said. The allotments are being done through an online draw of lots in "most transparent manner," he said. The country currently has 64,214 petrol pumps, most of them owned by state-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL). Private sector Nayara Energy owns 5,063 pumps, Reliance Industries 1,400 and Shell 144. He said those asking about job creation should look at the employment just the 20,000 petrol pumps will create. LPG user base, he said, has doubled in less than five years to 26 crore. "Between 1954 and 2014, 13 crore LPG connections were given. We have given an equal number of connections in four years and nine months." Of the 13 crore LPG connections given, 6.75 crore have been provided free of cost to poor households, he said. Oil Secretary M M Kutty said India's oil demand is expected to grow by 3-3.5 per cent over 2040 and gas by 4-5 per cent. The expansion of retail outlets is planned to enhance the availability of fuel across the country, he said. PTI ANZ ANZ MR MR

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