Taking cue from mobile number portability,the oil ministry is working on a plan to push this facility to LPG connections. The move will cut the hassle of switching LPG connections from one oil marketing company distributor (OMC) to another (inter-company transfer) or from one distributor of a particular OMC to another distributor of the same OMC (intra-company transfer).
The oil ministry aims to enable people to undertake the entire process of switching from an inefficient LPG distributor to one with a better delivery track record completely through the internet.
According to an official,a pilot scheme has recently been launched in Chandigarh. This is expected to be rolled out nationally by the end of this financial year.
The reason behind introducing LPG connection portability is to improve customer service by bringing about greater competition between LPG distributors.
Under this scheme,customers can request for a change in LPG distributor through the LPG Transparency Portal that can be accessed though the website of the ministry of petroleum and natural gas or through the respective OMC websites.
The LPG Transparency portal,launched in September last year,helps customers stay informed about their individual pattern of LPG usage,booking status,refill history,request for surrender of their connection etc.
The official said that the portal also gives ratings to distributors (from zero stars to 5 stars) based on their service delivery. This enables customers to find efficient distributors within their reach.
The change in distributors will be made hassle-free without customers having to go through the entire process of relinquishing their existing connection and applying for a new connection by re-submitting documentation.
The pilot plan in Chandigarh for now is being undertaken only for intra-company dealership changes as they are easier to undertake. In case of inter-company changes in distributors,there is the need for the customer to physically surrender the cylinder to the distributor.
The oil ministry is trying to work out on how to avoid this physical forfeiture in case of inter-company transfer of distributors. The LPG connection portability should be a purely digital process done through the internet, the official said.
The oil ministry is identifying other locations in the country where there are clusters of LPG distributors. In the next month or so we will roll out this scheme in other districts, he said.
At present around 14.5 crore households have LPG connections. The oil ministry said that 56% of India’s population has been covered with LPG and it plans to increase this to 75% by 2016-17.