By Rohit Alok
At 10 am on Saturday, Abdul Rehman, a tailor, was already feeling exhausted standing outside his LPG distributor’s office in Kala Qila, Dharavi. “I don’t like to begin my morning with a fight but I’ve run out of my patience. These employees put you in a foul mood, it’s their attitude. I am compelled to come in the morning because the line only gets longer through the course of the day,” Rehman said.
Mumbaikars across the city, who are beneficiaries of subsidised LPG have been forced to quarrel with their distributors.
“We are frustrated for trying to get what we are entitled to,” said a domestic help from Ghatkopar Shehnaz, speaking of the nine LPG cylinders her family consumes in a year.
“It’s been nine days since we ran out of gas and are currently using kerosene for domestic uses. Our distributor gave us a permission slip of sorts to allow us to pick up our own cylinder from the storage unit since we got tired of waiting for our gas to be delivered,” said Kurla resident Prateek Mahuje.
Jari Mari resident Amol Sankpad, faces an usual problem to register for the subsidy. “I recently switched my LPG connections. On the online form my entire address cannot fit because of the shortage in space, thus, my form has been processed five times at the cost of Rs 150 by the distributors. This is my fifth visit in a fortnight,” Sankpad claimed.
Both beneficiaries and distributors claim that there is a lack of adequate understanding on the payments mechanism of the government.
Tourist guide Ajay Chavan, a resident of Backbay, says that the main confusion for him and many others lies in the multiple bank accounts they hold that transfers the payments frequently and at times delays the transactions.
“Everytime we open a bank account we submit and undergo the same KYC formalities. The government more often than not transfers the money to the new account that also has the Aadhaar details of the consumer, while they are expecting the money to be registered in the registered bank account,” Chavan said.
A few well-off are not willing to give up their subsidies. A customer at a distributor’s office in Colaba’s Third Pasta Lane said that, “My husband and I pay a lot of taxes, there is no reason for someone to frown at us and why we cannot redeem some benefits given by the government.”
Distributors claim that the system has gotten cleaner as people aren’t using someone else’s connections especially after the DBTL scheme. “Our businesses won’t be affected unless the sales drastically drop,” said the manager of a LPG distributor in Colaba.