Noida residents await LPG subsidy for nine months
Almost all cooking gas consumers in Gautam Buddh Nagar had not received their subsidy for the last nine months, according to the district supply officer.
An official at the Union ministry of petroleum and natural gas, which deposits the subsidy of the liquified petroleum gas (LPG) beneficiaries in their bank accounts, said they were aware of the issue and attributed it to a fund crunch.
Gautam Buddh Nagar supply officer (DSO) Chaman Sharma said, “The Centre transfers the subsidy under the direct benefit transfer scheme. I got to know that LPG consumers have not got the amount in their accounts since May 2020.”
The DSO pegged the number of LPG consumers in the district at 1 million. “Out of them, over 250,000 are not entitled to the subsidy as their annual taxable income is above ₹10 lakh,” he said.
The subsidy is transferred under the central government’s direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme. According to officials, over ₹21,000 crore in subsidy was pending till date across the country.
Akhil Kumar, an auto-rickshaw driver in Noida, said that he has not received his gas subsidy in his account after May last year. “We live near Labour Chowk. Over 200 LPG consumers in my area have been running pillar to post for the subsidy amount. When we ask the gas agency owner and supply department officials, they say that the matter of subsidy credit is decided by the Centre,” he said.
Ragini Singh, an accountant in a private firm, said that the government stopped the subsidy without any prior information. “The annual income of our family is less than ₹5 lakh. Over 500 female consumers of Nithari area have written letters to one and all in ministry of petroleum, to release the subsidy to give us respite from unwanted financial burden, but nothing tangible has been done so far,” she said.
Rachna Yadav, the owner of a gas agency in Noida, said, “When consumers make queries, we don’t have any reply for them.”
Ministry officials were not forthcoming with an explanation for the issue although a joint secretary-level officer said that the government planned to lay more focus on the central government’s flagship Ujjwala scheme, which envisages providing LPG connection to every rural household. Added to this is the cut in the budget for LPG subsidy from over ₹40,000 crore in this fiscal to around ₹13,000 crore in the coming fiscal in April and the increase in coverage for the flagship scheme.
“Till the government makes any decision on it, the components of gas subsidy has been stopped. I hope that before the end of the present fiscal 2020-21, the government will take a final call on it. Speculations are high that in the coming fiscal 2021-22, the government will use the subsidy amount for the beneficiaries of Ujjwala scheme,” the officer, who wished to remain unnamed, said.