Most families use 7-plus gas cylinders

PLF

The justification given by the government to put the cap on subsidised cooking gas cylinders to a family each year at six is not in line with a survey report with the petroleum ministry. The issue had been raised by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar recently.

Countrywide data compiled by the three state-run LPG sellers shows that 12.96 crore active consumers bought 92.62 crore cylinders in 2011-12, an average annual consumption of 7.15 cylinders per connection. As of March 31, 2012, India had 13.98 crore LPG customers.

Sources said seven-plus cylinders has been the annual average since 2006-07, which is why in June 2008, the petroleum ministry had suggested a cap of eight refills to the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs. The proposal had been declined then.

Moreover, the survey shows that the annual eight-refill segment also has the highest number of consumers. Nearly 1.41 crore customers took exactly eight refills a year in 2011-12, says the report. In 2010-11 too, this segment had the largest number 1.29 crore customers.

The present cap, announced last month, would fully cater to only 40.48 per cent of active customers, shows the data.

The data also shows that 1.02 crore of the 13.98 crore LPG customers had not taken a single cylinder during the last fiscal year. Sources said these connections would soon be terminated to prevent dealers from exploiting them to sell subsidised cylinders at market rates.

Besides the quota confusion, the cap has resulted in three prices for LPG cylinders besides the subsidised rate. There is one for commercial LPG, where an extra burden is loaded on hotels and factories to partially offset the loss in subsidised refills; one for non-domestic exempted category such as schools and hospitals which attracts excise duty but no extra burden; and one for non-subsidised household cylinders which is duty-exempt.

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