Govt, IOC resort to blame game on LPG cap

Buck being passed amid shortage of cylinders faced by households

Amid shortage of LPG cylinders faced by households, the government and an oil company on Monday sought to fix the responsibility on each other for raising the cap on subsidised refills.

While Indian Oil Corporation Chairman R S Butola said the government has to take the decision to raise the cap on subsidised cooking gas cylinders, Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily maintains fuel retailers are free to raise the limit.

“This decision solely depends on the government, the oil companies will do as per the instructions,” Butola told Deccan Herald when asked if the oil companies were considering raising the limit of subsidised cylinders since the government has put the ball in their court.

Butola said, so far no discussions have taken place between him and the new petroleum minister on this matter.

Though the six-cylinder cap was decided by the Cabinet, Petroleum Minister Moily last week had said the fuel retailers are free to raise the cap.Moily had said that the government was not fixated on the cap and was sensitive to aam aadmi's travails.

"The fuel retailers have gone by some arithmetic that on an average six cylinders are enough for a household. This is arithmetic, there is also a chemistry, which they have not done," Moily had said in Bangalore last week.His comments came after widespread public protests to raise the limit of subsidised cylinders from six to nine.

Sources in the public sector oil retailing companies have, however, maintain that any revision in the number of subsidised LPG refills will only be done after the Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. The government cannot take such decisions at a time when election code of conduct is in place in states.

The demand for raising the number of government supplied cylinders has been more intense in the state like Jammu and Kashmir where the winter is very harsh.However, the oil companies cannot raise the cap unless they get a formal order from the petroleum ministry. Raising the cap merely on verbal communication may mean they will have to bear the entire subsidy burden all by themselves.

In the present case, it is not only the oil ministry which is involved, but also the finance ministry and the government, which has to decide on the quantum of subsidy to be paid to state-run oil companies.

Parliament panel to discuss ad

The issue in question is the apology letter written by the Petroleum Ministry to the members of the departmentally-related standing committee on petroleum and natural gas on an advertisement on the capping of the LPG cylinders. The discussion will be held on Tuesday.

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