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Gas connection rule flummoxes all

Last updated: 27 January, 2011
P M Raghunandan and Satish Shile, Bangalore, January 27, DHNS:

LPG muddle: Consumers a confused lot; distributors not equipped to meet sudden rush

The Food and Civil Supplies Department directing the LPG customers to submit revenue registration number (RR) as mentioned in electricity bills and copies of APL ration card to the LPG distributors has left a large section of customers confused.


 
The offices of LPG distributors have been thronged by the customers seeking too many clarifications from the staff, who are also unclear about the department’s intention in collecting the RR numbers.

The department has made it mandatory for LPG consumers to submit RR numbers and copies of APL cards to continue getting LPG supply. For the last four days, since the government extended the deadline for submitting the information, the customers have begun approaching the distributors for clarity on details to be furnished.

Deccan Herald on Thursday visited a few agencies to gauge the public response to the government’s announcement.


“It is difficult to convince customers,” is the common response of staff at the LPG centres. For the last four days, the offices are abuzz with customers seeking clarifications on documents they should submit.

The staff at K K Indane Enterprises at Someshwarapura in Ulsoor, look worked up attending to hundreds of customers a day. Proprietor Prakash said he had been seeing three types of customers.

“A few, well aware of the issue, are voluntarily submitting the records. Many are bringing records after we insist for them. But a large section of the customers want us to answer many questions, before submitting the details,” he said.

Many customers complained that the department’s advertisement in newspapers did not clarify what records should those who do not possess APL cards submit. Gajendran, a resident of Someshwara extension, said that despite repeated enquiries with the staff at the distributor’s office, he could not get information on which document he should submit in lieu of the APL card, which he did not have.

To clear the confusion, the department has supplied two separate forms for those with APL cards and those who do not have them.

A few distributors are taking details as per these forms. Those who do not have APL cards should submit only RR number and LPG consumer number.

Another major confusion among the consumers is about those residing in rented houses, which share a single electricity meter. In this case, all residents have to provide RR number of the same meter. However, homes sharing a single meter is against the rules.
The distributors also have their grouse against this system. They feel the department is harassing them with the task of collecting the data, only because the department has control over them.

Capt B V Subbanna of BVS Enterprises in Malleswaram said, “This is a futile exercise. A couple of years ago, the department collected several documents through distributors to weed out bogus card holders. But there was no impact. We don’t have the infrastructure or staff to handle this mess.” His office has placed a box for customers to drop the documents.

Poor response

Despite the threat of disconnection, the LPG (domestic) consumers in Bangalore don’t seem to have taken the mandatory disclosure of the RR numbers seriously. Only a few consumers have so far disclosed their RR numbers. For instance, Kavitha Gas Agency near Manuvana in Vijayanagar, one of the largest LPG distributors in Bangalore, has received RR numbers from only 200 consumers. The agency has a total of 37,000 consumers. “We have been requesting our customers to furnish the details at the earliest. But the response has been poor. We expect a lot of rush as the deadline nears ,” the agency manager said.

Similarly, Kalpana gas agency in RPC Layout, has received around 400 RR numbers so far. “People do not seem to have taken the notice seriously. They think that it is not so easy to withdraw the LPG connections. We expect to receive RR numbers from only 50 per cent of the customers. The rest will comply with the notice only if the department starts taking action,” one of the staff members at the agency said.

The distributors have no mechanism to issue acknowledgments to customers who file the documents. Those who want acknowledgments have to carry duplicate copies of the documents they submit. The distributor will put his signature on the copies as acknowledgement.

Form A


Consumers with APL cards

Consumer name:

LPG consumer number:

Ration card number (Enclose a copy of ration card):

RR number (Enclose a copy of recent electricity bill)
Consumer address and contact number

Form B

Consumers without APL cards

Consumer name:

LPG consumer number:

RR number (Enclose a copy of recent electricity bill)
Consumer address and contact number

Toll-free number


The Food and Civil Supplies Department has launched a toll-free phone line (1800-425-9339) to receive customers’ complaints and clarify their doubts. But the common complaint is that either the line is always engaged or the call is never answered. Deccan Herald also called up the number, but there was no response.

FAQs

* If consumer has no APL ration card?

The customer should submit a copy of recent electricity bill and LPG consumer number.

* If consumer is residing in a rented house?

Such consumers should also submit a copy of recent electricity bill and LPG consumer number. If the consumer changes residence, it is his/her duty to inform the agency about the change in RR number and address.

* If two or three houses are attached to one electricity meter?

All the consumers have to provide the same RR number of the meter.

* What is the deadline?

Food and Civil Supplies Minister Shobha Karandlaje has extended the deadline by 10 days from January 29, the previous deadline.

* Will LPG supply be stopped if details not provided?

The department has declared that it will cut the supply of LPG, if details are not provided within the deadline. However, LPG distributors have not been given clear directions in this regard.

* How collection of RR number helps to curb bogus card holders/LPG holders?

The Food and Civil Supplies department wants to link the ration cards (Above Poverty Line) with RR numbers so that it can weed out bogus cards. The department wants to emboss RR numbers on ration cards. RR numbers are issued by the electricity supply companies like Bescom to their consumers. This RR number data of the electricity supply companies is believed to be accurate.

After obtaining RR numbers from people, the department will verify the authenticity of every ration card. If there are two ration cards with the same RR number, such cards will be cancelled. Oil companies or gas agencies are using this method to weed out bogus LPG connections.


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