An Indore-based social activist has alleged that the number of people who have joined prime minister Narendra Modi’s #GiveItUp scheme by surrendering their LPG subsidies is far less in number than what the government claims to be.
Social activist Chanchal Gupta had moved a writ petition last year before the Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court to expose the alleged multi-million crore LPG scam.
Responding to the allegations, district collector P Narahari said unless the claims are verified by the oil marketing companies, we cannot say the numbers are wrong. A senior official of HPCL posted in the Indore region said, “We have not received any complaint in this regard so far. There are many cases where people have de-registered themselves from LPG subsidies by mistake and got them corrected later. It is a matter of scrutiny.”
As on October 9, according to www.mylpg.in portal, 1,04,91661 people across the country have surrendered their cooking gas subsidies.
Gupta, who runs a LPG helpline and receives hosts of complaints from LPG consumers, told HT on Sunday that in Indore district about 51,000 people are said to have surrendered their LPG subsidies, but in reality the number may be far less than the official figures.
“For sample, we picked up a list of people who have joined the PM’s scheme is available on the websites of oil marketing companies. In one of the gas distributing agencies in the city, it was declared that as many as 3,000 people have surrendered their LPG subsidies. Then we selected first 300 connections and tried to verify their antecedents. Out of those 300 connections, about 280 consumers did not refill their cylinders since April this year. Why? Have they stopped using LPG for cooking after surrendering the subsidy,” said the social activist, adding these are ghost connections.
“The gas distributing agencies have been operating many ‘ghost’ connections to siphon off cylinders and sell them in black market. These agencies are actually surrendering subsidies on these ghost connections to inflate numbers,” he said, adding it worked for distributors in two ways – (a) by surrendering subsidies on ghost connections they had made these connections legitimate and took them out of scrutiny; and (b) it helped in inflating the numbers which government wants.
In the list of people, who have surrendered their LPG subsidy, also includes people from below poverty line (BPL) settlements in the city such as Pancham Ki Phel, Kulkarni Ka Bhatta and many more low income settlements.
“Why will a BPL card holder surrender his LPG subsidy, when even most affluent households in Indore chose not to give up their LPG subvention?” said Gupta and added this is the pattern through which distributors across the country are inflating numbers and legitimizing their illegally run ghost connections.