With just 22 per cent Puneites linking their Aadhaar card with bank accounts for LPG subsidy as the deadline of January 31 approaches, oil companies are firm that the remaining 78 per cent will have to pay the market price. With no extension given yet, oil company officials have said as per the directives of the oil ministry, citizens would have to pay the market rate of Rs 1,240, while the subsidised rate is Rs 451.
“The guidelines for Direct Bank Transfer are clear. The district has given a grace period till January 31 for people to link their Aadhaar card numbers, complete with bank account details, with their LPG connections. If they fail to do so, they will have to forgo the subsidy,” said an oil company official.
The district has recorded 38.8 per cent Aadhaar linkage while the bank account linkage is just 22 per cent. Of 23.68 lakh customers, 9.18 lakh customers have Aadhaar card numbers and have submitted required details while only 5.28 lakh customers have done the linkage to bank accounts.
Oil companies say that 40.8 per cent of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) have registered their Aadhaar card numbers with gas agencies but only 22.9 per cent have linked it to their accounts. In the case of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), there were 37.7 per cent registrations with the agencies while only 22.2 per cent have linked their accounts and in Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), the registrations stood at 31.58 per cent and the linkage is 18.1 per cent.
The agencies are a worried lot. “Despite repeatedly appealing to customers, we have not been able to achieve the 50 per cent mark. Once they start paying the market price and do not get the subsidy, there is bound to be chaos,” said Vijay Bhave, a representative of a gas agency.
Meanwhile, many citizens who have applied for Aadhar cards have said they had not received the cards even after two months. “The delay is on part of the UIDAI. The agencies that are carrying out the work on Aadhaar cards also face technical issues and staff crunch. Unless we have a good percentage of Aadhaar coverage, why should the district start such a drive?” asked a senior citizen, M K Mishra, from Vishrantwadi.
Even as the government is yet to issue any circular about the card being mandatory, IT department officials from Mantralaya said citizens should be able to get the subsidy after they provide the original documents and their bank details. However, oil company officials are not buying this argument.
Under the scheme, as soon as domestic LPG consumers with Aadhaar link book the first subsidised cylinder, the subsidised amount is transferred to the bank account specified before the cylinder is delivered.
On the delivery of the first subsidised cylinder, the next subsidy gets transferred to the account, which is available for the purchase of the next subsidised cylinder at market rate.
At present, the government gives nine subsidised cylinders a year and ahead of elections, the UPA government is planning to increase this number to 12.