The ceiling on the number of cylinders you can have in a year has taken the gas out of benevolence.
Neighbours and relatives are rejecting all requests to lend a gas cylinder, knowing that they may end up paying as much as Rs 1,700 for the most-essential household product in "black". The price is exorbitant compared to the fact that a month back, you could get any number of cylinders by paying Rs 500 to Rs 600 instead of regular price of Rs 408.
With just six months to go for the financial year to end, the residents know they cannot get more than three cylinders per connection officially on subsidised rates - the cap being six cylinders per connection. Homemakers are suddenly revising the till-now-forgotten judicious methods of cooking and politely declining all requests for help from neighbours. As a result, deliverymen are charging at whim anywhere between Rs 1,700 and Rs 2,000 per cylinder from those who don't have a regular connection.
Anuradha Shukla, a homemaker from Sector 11, says: "I was shocked when a dealer asked me for Rs 1,165 for a cylinder, but I had to pay as it was an emergency." She adds: "My relatives and friends also refused to help me. I will have to get a connection, else cooking food at home will become impossible."
Ridhima Kaushal, resident of Sector 23, says she has already bought an electric plate for use in case of emergency. She adds: "But, with the recent increase in the power tariff, it is going to prove very expensive."
Getting a non-subsidised cylinder, too, is going to be an expensive affair. Already a non-
subsidised cylinder is costing Rs 905 against Rs 775 last month and this provision can only be availed of by those with a regular connection.
"About 60% of liquid petroleum gas is imported and its price depends upon various international factors, including the dollar rate," says Ashok Bhatia, patron of all India LPG distributors federation.
However, in a country where "jugaad" provides a solution to almost all the problems, dealers have come up with an answer of providing gas cylinders to those without connection at the rates which are little higher than the non-subsidised. They are issuing gas cylinders in the name of religious bodies, which fall under exempted category and charge Rs 1,165 per cylinder. Here too, the price has increased by Rs 175 as compared to the last month.
The rate of commercial cylinders too has gone up. Hotel establishments and eating joints now have to pay Rs 1,685 per cylinder against Rs 1,463 last month. An LPG dealer says the rate had gone up to Rs 1,800 few months back.
Bhatia adds the restrictions are now affecting sales. He asserts: "We are comparatively losing sale because of these stringent measures." Bhatia asserts the situation is going to get really tough for the people in winters due to increase in demand of cylinders and restriction on the supply.
Getting a cylinder in "black" is no longer easier. Even if you have contacts in the gas agency or with the vendors, the wait for a cylinder is nothing less than a week, especially since the restrictions were announced 10 days back.
Subsidised --- Rs 408
Non-subsidised - Rs 775 September rate, October rate Rs 905
Religious bodies and exempt category - Rs 999.50 in September. In October, it's Rs 1,165
Last month 19 kg commercial cylinder Rs 1463, revised rate this month Rs 1,685