If you as an urban consumer think you can soften the impact of the recent hike in domestic LPG prices by collecting refills directly from distributor’s premises, most private distributors will not allow you do so.
For, in such cases, it is obligatory on the part of then distributor to refund the delivery charge, which has recently been hiked from Rs. 8 to Rs. 15 per 14.2 kg domestic LPG cylinder. Though oil companies discourage godown delivery of LPG cylinders for safety reasons, they do not ban it.
Interestingly, even as the 'cash-and-carry' rebate has been there for consumers, most distributors, in contravention of government order, do not refund delivery charge even to consumers taking LPG from godown. Such consumers are usually those having single connection and panic when their LPG exhausts.
The ‘cash-and-carry’ issue becomes pertinent today more than ever before because, effective Sunday, the ministry of petroleum & natural gas has hiked delivery charges from Rs. 8 to Rs. 15 per 14.2 kg domestic LPG cylinder. The order, a copy of which is available with HT, further says, “Customers who collect the refills directly from the distributor’s premises will not be charged the delivery charge.”
However, most of the 181 distributors under the Patna area office of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) interpret it differently. They contend that godown delivery can be done only in exceptional circumstances and consumers, as a matter of right, cannot opt for it while taking a refill.
Gautam Bharadwaj, proprietor of Safeway, an Indane (IOC) distributor, on Boring Road here, said: "We do 100% home-delivery of domestic LPG cylinders. We are not supposed to allow godown delivery, as it is against norms of oil companies. Every time a refill is delivered at home, the equipment is checked. This cannot be done in case of godown delivery. Distributors are supposed to allow godowndelivery only in exigencies like riots, vendor strike, etc."
Rajeev Kumar, proprietor Diksha Indane, Vaishali, said: "We do not allow godown delivery because it is a violation of the explosives act, which does not encourage accumulation of masses at LPG storehouses, which is a vulnerable area. It is only in special cases and after permission from the oil company, that we allow consumers to take godown delivery."
Other IOC distributors like Akhandjyoti (New Patliputra Colony), Deepshikha (Rajendra Nagar), etc. also came up with similar sentiments to defend their stand on disallowing godown delivery.
IOC general manager (LPG sales), SK Awasthi, told Hindustan Times from Mumbai: “We do encourage home-delivery of LPG cylinders, but godown delivery is not banned. Else, there will not be a provision for ‘cash and carry rebate’. In cases of need, say for example, when consumers with single connection run out of LPG, distributors are supposed to entertain requests for godown delivery provided the consumers have booked a refill.”
The domestic LPG distributors’ commission, fixed at R25.83, including Rs. 8 as delivery charge for 14.2 kg cylinder, has now been revised to R7.25 of which Rs. 22.25 per cylinder is to cover establishment cost and Rs. 15 home-delivery charge. However, distributors are demanding per cylinder commission of Rs. 65.