“We do not have plenty of money but enough to share a fraction of it with others,” says Malati Sankaran, explaining why she voluntarily surrendered LPG subsidy. The 73-year-old retired teacher hopes that the government would pump the subsidy amount, that she and others like her would forego, into the social sector. She says educational infrastructure should benefit in particular from the gesture.
Sankaran, who lives in a colony off Shankar Sheth Road along with her husband, an 85-year-old retired Army official, said she had decided to respond to a government appeal to give up subsidy. She said she was “ashamed” of getting subsidized LPG after observing the standard of living of her servants.
“Due to old age, I cannot do much of daily housework and have employed three servants. For months, I have been closely observing the life of my less fortunate servants, who have limited economic means. After comparing their life and mine, I realised I was shamelessly claiming LPG subsidy like them though financially I was well off. A few days ago I came to know about the subsidy surrender scheme and filled the necessary forms today,” she told Newsline on Tuesday.
Appealing to more and more people who can afford it to surrender their LPG subsidy, the Sankaran family hopes the government will use the money generated from such gestures for social causes, especially in the field of education.
“More and more well-to-do people should give up LPG subsidy. The government should pour money thus recovered from LPG subsidy into the education sector. Most schools in our country lack basic facilities such as girls’ toilets and playgrounds. These should be made available on priority,” said Sankaran, who retired from St Vincent’s School here around 15 years ago.
Sankaran said she and her husband get monthly pensions and the family was happy to pay more for non-subsidized LPG cylinders.
“I have a son who stays abroad, and a daughter. Both are married. Now we are two persons living here, and require only around six cylinders a year. We have no problem letting go of the subsidy amount. Even if more cylinders are required in future, we would not avail of subsidy,” she said.
Since July 2014, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, along with state-owned oil firms had been appealing to financially comfortable citizens to “voluntary opt out of subsidies”. The aim was to reduce the rising subsidy burden on the government.
The Centre had recently announced steep cuts in prices of non-subsidized LPG, to reduce it to around Rs 721 per cylinder in Pune. Price of subsidized LPG cylinder in the city is Rs 448 at present, an LPG distributors’ body said.
“You are aware that LPG is a highly subsidized commodity in India and the subsidy amount was a whopping Rs 40,000 crore in 2013-14. Any subsidy translates into money from the government exchequer. The same money, if not given as subsidy, could be used for purposes that benefit the nation,” the web page of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) on “Opt out of subsidy” reads.
It mentions that 9,461 consumers surrendered LPG subsidy, saving Rs 5.67 crore and Bharat Gas mentions on its website that 6,196 LPG consumers have given up subsidy so far, saving Rs 3.71 crore subsidy a year. The number of consumers from Pune who opted out of subsidised cooking gas connection could not be ascertained.