Paying a high price for MPs' lavishness

Common Plight

The recent introduction of a website by the government to help the common man procure his monthly cooking gas cylinder easily, has only left him fuming even more.

First, the infuriating details of our netas guzzling up to 370 cylinders annually (that is at least one cylinder a day), and then the talk of limiting the number of cylinders per household from the current 10-14 to only nine every year, the common man is asking: Where is even our permitted share of cooking gas? Where are our cylinders going?

The three public sector oil companies - IndianOil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum which supply cooking gas cylinders, introduced the Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) for booking gas cylinders earlier this year. This was done with the stated aim of making cylinders available within 48 hours of booking.
However, in contrast to the tall claims made then, getting a cylinder in time has become even more difficult now.   

Krishna Gandhi, a housewife and resident of Lajpat Nagar says, “I make the booking on the IVRS days in advance of my current cylinder running out. However, inspite of several calls, there is no sign of the cylinder for weeks. I have to keep standing in my balcony, watching out for the van making any deliveries to neighbo­urs to be able to catch hold of the delivery boys and complain. Before the IVRS system, I was at least able to scold my gas agency guy on the phone. Now, with automated resp­onse, even that is not possible.”

Then there is the problem of underweight and leaking cylinders. By law, cylinder delivery boys must carry a weighing instrument with them on duty. However, they seldom do that for obvious reasons. Ambily Ravindran, a nurse by profession and resident of Vasant Kunj says, “Initially, I wouldn’t suspect the cylinder to be und­e­rweight and take it. When it started to run out in 10-12 days only with a single person usage, I bought a weighing machine and started weighing the cylinder myself.

They turned out to be five-seven kilos less and I fought with the agency owner on this. Since then, my cylinders have been more or less the right weight.” How a woman lifts a 14 kg cylinder on her own is a completely different story, she says.
When Metrolife spoke to a few domestic gas cylinder supplying agencies on this, they completely denied the charges.

Ramesh Joshi, owner of ‘Kitchen Care’ in Shakarpur defended, “A cylinder not reaching a customer in time can only happen in three scenarios. Either the company did not supply us the required number of cylinders, or, at the time of delivery, the customer is not present at home repeatedly due to which the parchi (coupon) is cancelled. Third, there could be a technical problem with the IVRS and the booking request is not forwarded to us. We are nowhere at fault.”

Another domestic cooking gas supplier, who did not wish to be named, was, however, more frank. He admitted, “Selling a domestic 14 kg gas cylinder at Rs. 400 hardly fetches us any margin. However, selling the same to a hotel, mall or restaurant for Rs. 200-300 extra gives us good profit.

Otherwise, they will have to buy commercial 19 kg cylinders at Rs. 1800. For the same reason, we also take out some gas from domestic cylinders and make new ones to sell them to commercial establishments. That’s why customers get leaking cylinders.”

“Besides,” he adds, “People also buy domestic cylinders to run their vehicles which is obviously not right, but we do it as it is profitable. It is a win-win situation for both sides.”

But what about the common man? He laughs, “The common man can rely on the gas pipelines being made compolsary in all parts of the country now. Our business will be gone but people can rest in peace thinking that they don’t have to fight with their agencywala anymore.”

Comments (+)