With LPG agencies muddled, consumers face the heat

  • Deepa Sharma Sood, Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
  • Updated: Nov 22, 2014 12:15 IST

After the LPG direct benefit transfer scheme was revived earlier this month, many consumers in the city have been complaining they haven’t been getting refilled gas cylinders after booking them with the authorised agencies.

The central government scheme, under which subsidies on cooking gas will be directly credited to the beneficiaries’ bank accounts, was reintroduced on November 15, and consumers who have yet to do so will continue to get cylinders for three months at the old prices.

However, even those consumers who had already linked their Aadhar cards with their bank accounts are being refused refilled cylinders with many receiving text messages from the agencies saying they would have to go through the rigmarole once more.

What has led to this frustrating situation is that employees at LPG agencies in the city appear to be utterly in the dark about the precise guidelines on supplying domestic gas cylinders issued by the food, civil supplies and consumer affairs department.

Though consumers have filed umpteen complaints about dealers refusing to honour their LPG refill bookings with the officials concerned, nothing much has happened and residents continue to be up against the wall.

Consumers who are being supplied gas cylinders by one of the local LPG agencies, Kailash Enterprises, in Haibowal Khurd, voiced their grievances, with many saying they were now finding it an uphill task to keep the fires burning in their kitchens.

“Employees at this gas agency are still asking consumers to link their Aadhar cards with their bank accounts despite the fact they had already done so earlier when the direct benefit transfer scheme was launched in 2013. Going through the exercise again doesn’t make any sense,” said a consumer.

Another consumer, Raj Kumar Jain, who lives in Rishi Nagar, said, “I booked a refilled cylinder with the agency on November 15 and later received a text message saying there wasn’t any need to again link my Aadhar card with my bank account to get the subsidy transfer. But two days later I got another message informing my booking had been cancelled. When I enquired with the agency I was told my Aadhar card had not been linked with my bank account which is why the booking was cancelled. It’s completely maddening as last year I the subsidy was being regularly credited to my account.”

“I have an overriding feeling that employees at LPG agencies aren’t competent enough to handle the job as most of them remain confused about the prevailing norms on supplying subsidised cylinders,” he added.

When contacted, the owner of Kailash Enterprises, Suresh Rai, said: “First of all, LPG agencies don’t cancel any bookings for refilled cylinders as the oil marketing companies handle them. However, after the central government relaunched the direct benefit transfer scheme on November 15 there’s little doubt the process of supplying refilled gas cylinders on time has slowed down. This is so because more than 3,000 consumers booked cylinders before November 15 and it’s not possible for the agency to deliver so many of them in the given time. Suffice it to say, if any consumer books a refilled cylinder we’ll do our best to deliver it to him within the next two days.”

Meanwhile, Indian Oil Corp’s senior area manager for Chandigarh, Rakesh Kumar, said: “I’ll instruct my field manager to visit all LPG agencies and advise them on handling the situation. If consumers have any grievances or problems they can contact him and we’ll resolve the issue as soon as possible to avoid any harassment to customers.”

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