Cap on LPG will burn hole in pandal hoppers’ pockets

This time, the pandal hoppers have to dig deep in their pockets to savour their favourite rolls and chowmein, which till now suited their pockets perfectly. The reason being the cap on the subsidised LPG cylinders. Unemployed youths, who wanted to make some quick money during the pujas, sell the delicacies around the pandals by putting in use a couple of domestic LPG cylinders for cooking. Now, as the cylinders will have to be procured at a commercial rate of Rs 1,300 and 1,400 per cylinder instead of the usual Rs 400, they are doubtful if they could serve the food at the earlier rates. "Will it be possible for us to sell the food at an affordable rate? The price of everything will have to be increased by at least 50 per cent," said Jayanta Banerjee, who has been putting up these terminable stalls for several years on Christopher Road.

Abhijit Dey, another temporary vendor of Gariahat, said it would give rise to unnecessary and unfair competition among the sellers. "No system can be 100 per cent foolproof. Even if there are some persons who can manage domestic cylinders, would sell the food at a slightly lower price, getting an unfair edge," he said.

Authorities, however, said that it was one of the purposes why the restrictions were put in place. Sushanta Mukherjee, president, West Bengal LPG Distributors' Forum said the cap might look like that some are being deprived of some windfall gains, but it would actually help in getting rid of black marketers.

Sukamal Kr Sen, a city-based dealer of Bharat Gas, said that getting a temporary gas connection during Pujas had been made simple. "Applicants would have to put in an application with a refundable amount of Rs 1,700 and an ID proof. The connection will be given on a temporary basis. Of course, commercial rate will be charged and it makes sense," he said.

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