Jan 31 deadline looms, those without Aadhaar ID will have to pay market price for LPG

With just 25 days left for the deadline to lapse, Pune residents who have not yet enrolled for their Aadhaar number and linked their bank account with the ID for LPG subsidy may have to pay Rs 836 more for every LPG cylinder, as directed by the Union Ministry of Petroleum. The ministry and the three oil companies that supply gas had given the consumers in the district a grace period till January 31 to link their Aadhaar number complete with bank account details with the LPG connection. Failing to do so, residents will have to pay the non-subsidised rate of LPG Rs 1,279 per cylinder as against the subsidised rate of Rs 443.

With only 2 lakh linkage recorded in the city till now, the LPG agencies are bracing themselves for a huge chaos next month as most of their customers will not be eligible for any subsidy.

While the Aadhaar enrollment figure has not touched even the 50 per cent mark, that of the linkage with LPG connections averages to less than 20 per cent for each oil company.

"With just this month left, citizens will have to buy the cylinder at market price. The subsidy will go to them only after they have obtained their Aadhaar number and linked it to their bank account," said a oil company representative.

According to a company official, only 37 per cent of the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited customers have enrolled for Aadhaar while the linkage with bank account for LPG subsidy has materialised for 19 per cent consumers only. The figures are not encouraging for Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited and Indian Oil Corporation Limited either. (see box)

"We have been repeatedly asking the consumers to link their Aadhaar numbers with the banks so that the subsidy can be transferred. Those who have linked it have got the subsidy and those who have not will have to let go of the subsidy till they oblige," said an oil company representative.

"After the grace period is over, there is bound to be chaos at all the agencies," said Vijay Bhave, a member of the LPG agencies' association.

Some oil company officials said in all probability, as has been done in other states, the grace period might be extended by another month. While residents are up in arms against the directive calling it a blatant violation of Supreme Court orders, the ministry has directed to continue with the project to link Aadhaar to LPG subsidy.

"While the SC has said Aadhaar is not compulsory, the oil ministry says it is compulsory. Is oil ministry above the SC? The government had said the drive was to make things easier for consumers, it cannot be made compulsory," said Neethi Goyal, a resident who is awaiting her Aadhaar card.

Other citizens too voiced their concern. Ravi Kumar, who has recently shifted to Pune from Andhra Pradesh, said even as PILs had been filed in the matter, the oil companies have not changed their stand. "The cost of non-subsidised cylinders is so high...the government needs to intervene," he said.

Under the scheme, as soon as domestic LPG consumers with Aadhaar link book the first subsidised cylinder, the subsidised amount is transferred to their specified bank account, before the cylinder is delivered. On the delivery of the first subsidised cylinder, the next subsidy gets transferred to the account, which is available for the purchase of the next subsidised cylinder at market rate.

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