The Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh high court on Friday issued notices to the Central and state governments along with the three major oil marketing companies, including Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited, while hearing a petition on an alleged multi-crore LPG scam.
The division bench, comprising justices PK Jaiswal and DK Paliwal, observed the public interest litigation filed by RTI activist Chanchal Gupta was of “high magnitude” and sought response from the governments and the three companies within four weeks.
According to Gupta, who is also an RTI activist, at least Rs 1,200 crore subsidy towards domestic LPG connections was being siphoned off by distribution agencies and oil marketing companies every year in Madhya Pradesh alone.
“If calculated nationally, the scam may run into Rs 20,000 crore annually and this has been affirmed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself in many of his speeches,” said Gupta.
The petitioner’s counsel, advocate Amitabh Upadhyay, said, “Siphoning of cooking gas subsidy is rampant all over. Even after implementation of Direct Benefit Transfer on LPG (DBTL), black-marketing and drain of subsidy is being carried out extensively.”
Talking to HT, another counsel of the petitioner, advocate Mamta Saxena, said, “Out of total 85 lakh LPG connections across the state, at least 21 lakh connections are ghost connections, against which Rs 1,200 crore is being diverted annually.”
Gupta, who hosts a web portal called www.lpghelpline.com, received hosts of complaints from consumers all across the country over last three years.
“I personally verified many complaints in Indore and on several occasions have apprised of the issue to oil marketing companies, governments, food control authorities, district administration, but no major action is taken against the corrupt people, and nothing has been done to plug the loopholes.”
Advocate Upadhyay said the role of top officials of oil marketing companies could not be ruled out in the scam. “The software, maintaining database of consumers, is being tampered to carry out the scam,” he alleged.
The petitioner has sought the high court’s intervention to weed out corruption in distribution of LPG through physical verification of suspicious connections.
He has also asked the court to initiate action against the officials responsible for the mammoth scam.