Hyderabad: Domestic LPG consumers heaved a sigh of relief on Thursday as the Centre decided to delink Aadhaar and LPG for supply of subsidised cylinders.
It was a “big day” for lakhs of LPG consumers who celebrated the scrapping of the Aadhaar-LPG linkage. “It was a useless scheme. Consumers had to face several hardships and had to pay a heavy price for the mistakes committed by Aadhaar, OMCs, banks and gas agencies officials.
Now that the scheme has been scrapped, it’s a big relief for us,” said P. Shireesha, a resident of Himayatnagar. Consumers had been expecting the Centre to scrap the Aadhaar-LPG linkage immediately after the Supreme Court ruled against it in September last year.
Even the AP High Court and the Bombay High Court had ruled against the “linkage”. However, the Centre had been implementing it citing that it had filed a review plea and the case was pending with the apex court.
“Finally, all our problems regarding subsidised cylinders have been solved. Even after completing Aadhaar-LPG-bank linkage in August last year, we weren’t getting the subsidy amount. We had approached officials concerned, but each one only tried to blame the other,” said K. Sunitha, a resident of Gachibowli.
Another consumer, Hamed Ali, who works with a jewellery showroom, said, “I got my LPG connection linked with Aadhaar and my bank account in September last year. However, I haven’t got any subsidy amount yet. Later, I was told that my subsidy was being credited in the account of another consumer by the name of Ramakrishna.”
It had been a harrowing experience for lakhs of domestic consumers across the state due to “faulty linkage”, more so in the twin cites, covering Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts, since June last year. These two districts were the first in the country where the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme?for LPG cylinders came into force.
The Aadhaar-LPG linkage was optional between June and August, 2013 but became mandatory in the two districts from September. The Centre and OMCs took this decision ignoring the fact that Aadhaar cards had not been issued to half of the consumers and not even 20 per cent of the consumers had got their LPG connections linked with the bank accounts.
With this, many people lost their subsidy amounts despite being eligible and ended up paying over Rs 1,000 to obtain a cylinder against the earlier price of Rs 412.50. The cylinders were virtually unaffordable for those from the middle and lower income groups.
In Hyderabad, out of the total 13,88,107 domestic LPG connection holders, only 9.73 lakh had seeded their connections with Aadhaar and bank accounts. Similarly, in Ranga Reddy district, of the total 14,32,159 domestic LPG connection holders, only 9.75 lakh consumers had seeded their connections with Aadhaar and bank accounts.
The few consumers who received their Aadhaar cards and got their LPG connections linked with Aadhaar and bank accounts too suffered financial losses due to the tardy implementation system. In many cases, the amount was credited in banks in which the consumers did not hold any accounts.
While other beneficiaries like students eligible for scholarships and fee reimbursement, old age pensions, widow pensions etc. too are affected by the “mandatory Aadhaar norm”, the state government has stuck to its policy.
Principal secretary of the social welfare department, Raymond Peter said, “As of now, Aadhaar is mandatory to avail benefits of various welfare schemes. The relaxation has been given only for the Aadhaar-LPG issue.”
Prof. K. Nageshwar of OU and MLC, who had been agitating against the DBT scheme, said, “It’s good that the Centre has relaxed the Aadhaar-LPG linkage for subsidised cylinders. The same must be extended to all government schemes. Social auditing must also be done to check subsidy misuse.”
Next: Uncertainty remains over subsidised cylinder price
Uncertainty remains over subsidised cylinder price
Hyderabad: Uncertainty continues over the price of subsidised LPG cylinders and the date from which the Aadhaar-LPG delinking will come into force.
Officials of Oil Marketing Companies in the state said that they were awaiting orders from the Union petroleum ministry to this effect.
“We can’t say anything on this right now. We need to do a lot of back-end work to revert to the old system. Many bookings were made in the existing format and bills were issued.
We need a clarity over what to do with these pending bookings. We also need clarity on the price that has to be charged from the consumers after delinking Aadhaar,” said Madhukar Ingole, AP state LPG coordinator for OMCs.
Officials, however, feel that the price would be more compared to the pre-DBT days when consumers used to pay Rs 412.50.
“The state government is not paying its share of Rs 25 subsidy now. Besides, the commission rates for dealers have been hiked. All these will be passed on to consumers. We expect the price to be in the range of Rs 440 to Rs 450,” he said.
However, dealers believe that the price may even touch Rs 500 since the OMCs will also try to pass some part of their subsidy burden to the consumers.
Dr P. Venkateshwar Rao, president, AP LPG Distributors Association, said, “The OMCs estimate the total subsidy burden at Rs 5,000 crore. We expect them to pass on part of the subsidy burden to the consumers by increasing the price of subsidised cylinders.”...