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Govt plan on restricting LPG use runs into opposition

The official estimate that an LPG cylinder is sufficient to meet the cooking requirements of a domestic kitchen for 40 days is itself being questioned.

Mail Today Bureau   New Delhi     Last Updated: July 18, 2011  | 17:10 IST

The petroleum ministry's proposal to limit the number of subsidised liquified petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders for each household to seven each year seems to be facing strong headwinds.

A petroleum ministry official told MAIL TODAY that a similar proposal to limit the ceiling to eight cylinders had been rejected by the Cabinet in 2008, so it is unlikely that a lower cap will be allowed to go through now, as the political situation has turned more sensitive for the Congress-led UPA coalition government.

The official estimate that an LPG cylinder is sufficient to meet the cooking requirements of a domestic kitchen for 40 days is itself being questioned.

The estimate has been arrived at by dividing the total number of cylinders sold by the total number of domestic LPG connections.

BACK IN TIME:Govt eyes limiting LPG supply to households

However, a significant number of households have two or more connections on which they draw cooking fuel as a result of which the total amount of gas actually consumed in each domestic kitchen would be much higher than the catch-all average would have us believe.

A study carried out by Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) in Jaipur showed that close to 20 per cent homes in the Pink City had multiple LPG connections.

SEALING THE GAS LEAK

The 40-day cycle has been arrived at by dividing the number of cylinders sold by the number of domestic LPG connections

However many households have two or more gas connections, so amount of gas consumed would be higher

A study by IOC, BPCL and HPCL showed that close to 20% homes in Jaipur had multiple LPG connections

Consumers say one LPG cylinder does not normally last beyond 30 days

Consumers complain of part of the gas being siphoned off from cylinders.

So one cylinder may actually not last for a full month

Calculating according to a 30-day average each family would need 12 cylinders

Many LPG distributors take about 20 to 30 cylinders per household each year, hinting at large-scale diversion of subsidised cooking gas for use in commercial establishments
"The picture would be much the same for the other cities in the country," a senior official said.

PEOPLE'S VIEW:LPG price hike hits household budgets

Most consumers said that an LPG cylinder does not normally last beyond 30 days even if they make judicious use of the gas.

There have been several complaints of part of the gas being siphoned off in the distribution chain as a result of which the net weight of the gas per cylinder turns out to be less than the 14.2 kg supplied by the oil companies.

In such a scenario the number of days that an LPG cylinder could be stretched to could be even less than a month.

Assuming that a cylinder lasts 30 days on average, each family would need 12 cylinders per year, which is a more realistic figure.

However, an examination of the records of LPG distributors of public sector firms shows that a number of them are taking as many as 20 to 30 cylinders per household each year, a senior petroleum ministry official said.

This shows that large-scale diversion of subsidised cooking gas is taking place for use in commercial establishments, such as restaurants and dhabas and as an auto fuel.

LPG for commercial use is sold at the market price and packed in different cylinders. However, the household cylinders are a common sight in restaurants and roadside eateries.

The oil firms have now centralised the booking of cooking gas in order to curtail this diversion and limit the losses.

At current prices, the subsidy on each cylinder works out to over Rs 300 per cylinder, which the government is keen to reduce.

According to the petroleum ministry's proposal any extra LPG beyond seven cylinders that a household may require will have to be bought at the market price so that the public sector oil companies do not have to suffer any loss.

Courtesy: Mail Today

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