Having more than one LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connection per household may soon become a legal offence.
Top officials of state-owned oil companies said that provisions with strict penalties are being prepared to check the use of multiple subsidised LPG cylinders, after the Centre's decision to restrict the number of such cylinders to six per household.
"Even influential people and VIPs, including union ministers, MPs and other dignitaries, will not be spared. A list has been drawn to monitor their usage," said a senior oil company official. "Many ministers and MPs have agreed in principle to surrender their LPG connections."
Oil company sources said that the subsidy support on LPG alone for this fiscal was estimated to be above Rs. 40,000 crore: "Such checks will help the government save over Rs. 20,000 crore this year on its fuel subsidy outgo."
The government, in order to check misuse of subsidised cylinders, is also planning to set a timeframe for all users of piped natural gas (PNG) to ‘voluntarily surrender' their LPG connections. If users do not do so before deadline expires, they will risk losing both connections.
All major cities such as Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Kanpur and Lucknow have PNG networks. There are plans to cover 200 more cities by 2015. Officials said that dual connections encourage black marketing of LPG cylinders and restrict their supply to poorer households.
"We have been using piped gas for the last three years. It's economical since the rate is calculated according to the actual usage," said Nisha Shekhar, a resident of Sarita Vihar. "But at times you need a gas cylinder as a backup."
In such a case, households should buy the cylinder at the market rate of R780, and not at the subsidised price of Rs. 400, the official said.