Two years after the Narendra Modi-government launched a ‘Give It Up’ campaign, over 4,700 LPG customers in Gujarat have sought to reclaim their subsidised cooking gas cylinders. The nation-wide figure is 1.12 lakh. Over 1.05 crore customers had given up subsidised LPG cylinders since Prime Minister Modi’s appeal in March 2015.
According to data presented in Lok Sabha by Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Petroleum and Natural Gas, on Monday, a total of 1,12,655 “Give It Up” customers across the country have opted back the LPG subsidy as on April 1, 2017.
In Gujarat, 4,701 customers have reclaimed their subsidies. The data was part of a written reply to a starred question posed by MP Dushyant Chautala. The highest number of customers who have opted to get back their subsidised LPG cylinders are in Maharashtra (22,984), Uttar Pradesh (13,552) and Rajasthan (9,955) while Gujarat ranks eighth in the nationwide list.
Other states like Karnataka (9,255), Tamil Nadu (7,681), Madhya Pradesh (5,027), Bihar (5,646) and Punjab (4,914) also have sizeable number of customers who have opted back for the LPG subsidy.
The lowest number of such customers are in Meghalaya (one), Arunachal Pradesh (five) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands (six).
Asked about the reasons for customers in Gujarat opting back, VK Verma, deputy general manager (LPG), Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, said, “I am not sure of the exact reason. But it is possible that because of digitalisation and use of mobile phones (to book cylinders), some of the customers might have wrongly opted out of the subsidy.”
Retail distributors in Gujarat confirmed that most of the customers had responded to the “Give It Up” campaign by “mistake” while using mobile phones to book their cylinders.
A LPG gas cylinder distributor in Ahmedabad, on condition of anonymity, said, “Over 70 per cent of the LPG customers, who have opted out of subsidy in the last two years, belong to low-income groups who have done it by mistake. Most of them did not know how to use mobile phones for booking cylinders when Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) was introduced. They used to line up outside our agency saying that they had pressed wrong button (zero) on their mobile phones while trying to book cylinders. We have restored subsidies of such families. However, I will not be able to pull out a number of such customers immediately.”
“We also get people living in bungalows (high-income group) coming to us and asking us to enroll them back for LPG subsidy. We get one or two such cases every day. We refer such cases to the higher authorities,” the retail distributor added.
Another official, working with the LPG section of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd, said, “Apart from those who might have wrongly opted out, there are also (such) customers who need subsidised LPG cylinders back. Such customers have opted in.”
Currently, the market price for an LPG cylinder in Ahmedabad is Rs 751 and the subsidy is around Rs 270.
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