Dealers and distributors from all over the state, who are dealing with a private LPG supplying company selling the product under the Bharti brand, on Tuesday accused the company officials of duping them and eating their security deposit, licence fee and refill amount worth over Rs. 200 crore.
Addressing mediapersons, Jaswinder Singh, president of the dealers' association and a distributor from Tarn Taran, said, "No dealer had received supply from the company for the past three months. Company officials had already collected advance amount for two trucks full of refills from every dealer and later stopped attending their calls."
"It is a case of organised fraud and it seems that the company had the patronage of political bigwigs. The company had its bottling base at Kohara village in Ludhiana district and used to supply us refills from there," he added.
Revealing the modus operandi of the alleged fraud, Jalandhar distributor Satnam Singh said, "The company had appointed over 100 dealers in the state and a distributor in each district by taking `10 lakh from a dealer and Rs. 25 lakh from a distributor. In March 2012, they invited applications through big advertisements in newspapers. Earlier, they assured to supply LPG at the rates of public sector companies, but later they started enhancing the refill rates regularly."
"More than 2,000 subscribers had been enrolled by each dealer by taking Rs. 4,000 as security deposit. With the company closing down the operations, more than 2 lakh households, mostly belonging to lower-middle class had been cheated by the company," said Jujhar Singh from Rupnagar.
"After smelling a rat, we probed the history of the company. Earlier too, in Punjab, customers were duped and enrolled by the company in the name of brands of Shakti Gas and Hind Gas. Our director RK Pandey was also on the board of directors in both the companies. It is learnt that the directors have started operations under a new brand, Indus, and have started appointing new dealers," said Hardeep Singh from Hoshiarpur.
"We all are feeling duped. The dealers had moved a complaint in this regard to the commissioner of police at Ludhiana and he had referred our complaint for a probe. We want justice for all of us and those committing frauds should be booked and barred for carrying out any business activities," he said.