It’s Pradeep Warekar’s sixth visit to the gas distributors’ office in Mahim. The 60-year old has been struggling to register for the LPG subsidy or Pahal Scheme for the last two months.
Bureaucratic apathy and a cumbersome procedure have left him frustrated but looking at his monthly household cash flow, the subsidy is of great help to his family.
“These people are of no help,” he vents after coming out of the gas distributor’s office, and there are eight others standing in queue outside who look equally resigned.
Warekar is struggling to get the subsidy on a gas connection which was originally in his mother’s name. His mother passed away three years ago and they were getting the subsidy till new rules required Know Your Customer (KYC) certificates and bank account details etc.
The list of documents required is available on the oil marketing companies’ website, but Warekar, who discontinued his education until Class XI, shrugs when told about that. “They (distributor staff) don’t have the patience to explain what documents are required and where to get them.”
The frequent visits to the gas office means a loss of income for Warekar, who describes himself as a ‘civil contractor’, and does odd jobs like electrical work and plumbing. He says he gets work sporadically and earns up to Rs 10,000 in good months. But in a bad month, his family of four – wife, an unemployed brother and son – get by on the Rs 15,000 salary of the son.
“We really require the subsidy because we are not well off. The subsidy whatever it is means an extra kilo or so of chicken or some more vegetables on the plate for us,” says Warekar.
Food inflation in India has averaged close to 10 per cent in the three years to 2015 and have hit families like Warekar’s who get by on a household income which is barely higher than the per capita income in Mumbai.
Fuel prices thus become more important, for a family like Warekar’s which needs three cylinders every two months. Monthly expenses are usually close to Rs 10,000, he says. “My wife spends 6 hours in the kitchen everyday cooking. My son works in Airoli and has to be given two packed meals a day. This all adds up to fuel usage,” says Warekar.
“We don’t have any option for entertainment except watching TV and eating good food at home.”
A piped natural gas (PNG) connection, which at times can get cheaper than subsidised LPG, is not really an option for his 150-square feet one-room set-up in Mahim with a make-shift kitchen and bathroom inside. “We were refused a PNG connection,” said Warekar.
To get the subsidy, he first had to submit a transfer application. Then on each subsequent visit, he was asked to get a no objection certificate from other legal heirs of his mother, fill up the subsidy form, take a copy of the subsidy form to his bank and get a receipt and fill up a KYC form. The process is not complete yet. On Monday, he will trudge yet again to the gas distributor’s office to chase the subsidy.