There are 41 lakh liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) consumers in the state. But, as per the estimates of oil marketing companies (OMCs), nearly half of them are non-genuine consumers! "We have launched the Know Your Customer (KYC) exercise across the state to identify the genuine ones. We will have the complete data by March 2013, though we suspect that about 50% of the consumers in the state are non-genuine," said a senior official of an OMC.
Currently, the KYC process is going on for consumers with multiple connection under three categories - people who have the same name and same address, those with different names and same address and consumers who have given incomplete address to the distributors. They have to fill the forms by October 31, while the rest of the people have to complete the process by March 31, 2013.
The Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has already identified consumers under the first two categories and the numbers are an eye opener.
There are upto 100 consumers with the same name and address, registered with each of its gas agency. On the other hand, the number of connections in different names but with the same address hovers between 1,000 and 1,500 at every distributor. A list of all the identified consumers has already been given to the gas agencies concerned.
These numbers become mind-boggling if we consider the fact that there are around 360 gas distributors of the IOC, Hindustan Petroleum (HP) and Bharat Petroleum (BP) in the state. With 60% of total connections and 220 gas distributors, IOC has the lion's share among the three OMCs.
The survey also reveals that many consumers in Bihar have not booked a gas cylinder for the last six months. This could be gauged if we take into consideration the IOC's case in Patna, where around 24% of state gas consumers reside.
A study by the IOC, which has 35 distributors in Patna, revealed that 71,000 of its consumers in the state capital have not taken delivery of cylinders for the last six months. Such connections have been blocked by the company, although they can be reactivated by filling the KYC forms.
A senior official of an OMC told HT, on the condition of anonymity, that the problem of nongenuine consumers was more serious than what appeared. There were many users with multiple connections in different names and addresses. The area was same and yet they managed to get the cylinders delivered by hobnobbing with the delivery boys, he said.
The official added that small eateries and hotels were among the biggest culprits with some of them found to be possessing upto 8-10 connections. The OMC official said it would be tough to detect all such customers and take action against them. With the number of subsidised cylinders limited to just six every financial year, those possessing multiple connections would also try hard to save them. As such, the companies will also have to be on guard to check unilateral decisions and overcharging by the distributors.
Meanwhile, the IOC is targeting to issue 4.5 lakh new connections in Bihar during the current financial year (2012-13). It has already given 1.26 lakh new connections so far. The company had released 3.5 lakh connections in the state in the previous financial year.