HIGH ON GAS
By Mail Today Bureau in New Delhi
Politicians consume 30- 185 gas cylinders annually but the common man is allowed only 17 cylinders
AT A TIME when the Union government is considering a proposal to limit subsidised liquefied petroleum gas ( LPG) cylinders for each household to between seven and nine every year, the number used by the country’s politicos across party lines in the last 12 months ranges from as many as 30 to a staggering 185.
The facts about the VIP gas guzzlers embarrassingly tumbled out after Union minister for petroleum and natural gas S. Jaipal Reddy launched an LPG portal for three public sector oil companies on Friday to ensure transparency in the consumption of cooking gas.
The website — LPG Transparency Portal — reveals that while politicians consumed up to 185 LPG cylinders last year, the average usage by the common man was just 10 to 14 cylinders during the corresponding period. It is obvious that rules have been dramatically bent for politicians and other VIPs because a common household can get a second LPG cylinder only after 21 days have elapsed since the previous booking.
Prominent among the profligates is Mulayam Singh Yadav. The Samajwadi Party ( SP) supremo is shown to have consumed 58 LPG cylinders during the year at his 16, Ashoka Road, official residence.
Curiously, the name of one R. S. Pandey is also listed at the same address against which 50 cylinders have been issued. This takes the total consumption at the address to 108 cylinders.
Topping the list of LPG connections is the late O. P. Jindal, the father of MP Naveen Jindal and industrialist Sajjan Jindal, with 184 cylinders at their 6, Prithviraj Road, address. In this case, too, another name — that of Prabha Devi Rawat — is mentioned at the same address. There are 185 cylinders against her name, taking the total number ordered from the bungalow to a whopping 369 cylinders.
The portal also shows that minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur has ordered 77 cylinders during the last 12 months.
The consumption pattern of her political rival, Shiromani Akali Dal leader and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, too, raises eyebrows as there are 31 cylinders against his name.
And if you thought there was no scope for any addition to disgraced former minister and Commonwealth Games scam prime accused Suresh Kalmadi’s list of wrongdoings, you need to think again because his LPG usage is shown as 63 cylinders.
Another big tainted politician, DMK’s A. Raja who is facing trial in the 2G spectrum allocation scam, is just a few paces behind with 47 cylinders.
Former railway minister and RJD leader Lalu Prasad appears to have competed closely with LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan.
The two consumed 43 and 45 cylinders, respectively, during the last 12 months.
BSP supremo Mayawati has matched Paswan by availing herself of 45 cylinders.
In many cases, there are two or more connections in the name of a single person though it is illegal for an individual to hold two connections at the same address.
Official figures also disclose that Union agriculture minister and NCP leader Sharad Pawar got 31 cylinders, even as his party colleague Praful Patel — he is also the heavy industries minister — overtook him by using 41.
Petroleum minister Reddy himself consumes 26 cylinders annually and his deputy, RPN Singh, uses up 37.
The Opposition, too, seems to have kept the kitchen fire burning relentlessly. Sharad Yadav of the JD- U has consumed 49 cylinders and the corresponding figure for BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain is an even more liberal 56.
Retired IPS officer KPS Gill has as many as 79 cylinders against his name over one year.
According to the LPG portal, Vice- President Hamid Ansari has also taken a hefty chunk of 83 cylinders. The long list includes National Human Rights Commission chairperson K. G. Balakrishnan.
The former Chief Justice of India got 60 cylinders during the year.
In stark contrast, a normal household cannot get more than 17 cylinders of subsidised LPG annually.
Even this figure is generally not reached since delays in delivery schedules are common. The petroleum ministry, however, denies that there has been any misuse of gas.
It tries to explain away the high consumption pattern of VIPs by stating: “ According to the current rules and regulations, there is no limit on the number of cylinders consumed by any individual.” The ministry further claims that in order to rationalise the consumption of subsidised LPG cylinders, it is studying a proposal to put a cap on the annual consumption by households.
“ While this proposal is under consideration, the launch of the LPG portal is another initiative that intends to bring about transparency in the entire supply chain,” it adds.
To be sure, launching the portal definitely has its plus side.
Cooking gas consumers, who run into rude and uncooperative dealers often when booking refills, will now be able to not only track the status of their requests online but can also find out if someone is jumping the queue or the cylinder is finding its way into commercial establishments.
“ Logging a complaint is just as easy. Consumers can even rate the performance of their distributors now. This is expected to help the oil companies to improve their services further,” Reddy said on Friday.
Keeping a tab
“ The LPG portal will host the data of nearly 14 crore consumers in the country.
The information on the portal can also be sorted by consumer number, consumer name and by the distributors’ names,” he disclosed.
The portal can be accessed through the official website of the petroleum ministry ( www. petroleum. nic. in ).
Access is also available through the oil company websites — www. indane. co. in; www. ebharatgas. com and www. hindustanpetroleum. com.
“ The three oil marketing companies supply over 32 lakh cylinders per day,” Reddy said, adding that the subsidy on domestic LPG was likely to jump to ` 43,000 crore this year from ` 30,000 crore last year.
“ The portals provide complete details of each customer with consumer number, name, address, number of cylinders supplied, dates of supply as well as the indicative subsidy amount for the cylinders supplied,” he said.
Reddy launched an LPG portal for three public sector oil firms on Friday to ensure transparency in consumption of gas
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Friday, June 22, 2012