A few days ago I got an sms that said:
Over 2500 citizens have joined Nation building by giving up LPG subsidy. Come join them. Visit www.ebharatgas.com or distributor for details.
When we moved to Bangalore from Singapore in 2007, we were ineligible for a government LPG connection because we did not have a ration card, which was mandatory at that time. We used private gas. We were used to paying the market rate for our LPG. We got a government LPG connection only after shifting to Mumbai in 2012. And this because the rules allowed us to use our rental agreement as address proof.
Giving up the LPG subsidy was something that had crossed our minds. Some months ago, the UPA Government had made it mandatory to link the Aadhar Card to the LPG connection for the subsidy to get credited. The rule was that the consumer pays the full rate on delivery of the cylinder and the subsidy amount gets credited to the Aadhar-linked bank account, for upto 1 cylinder a month.
My husband had decided that we didn’t need the subsidy. However, as there were reports in the media that without the Aadhar Card, the supply of LPG itself could be in jeopardy, we submitted the Aadhar Card linkage form to the distributor. With a spelling error in the original gas voucher, we were not sure if the linkage would happen. Our consumption of LPG has been extremely moderate, about 4 cylinders a year. We never did get to know if the Aadhar linkage was done because the rules changed by the time our next booking happened. Now everyone with an LPG connection is eligible for 12 subsidised cylinders a year and they need to pay the subsidised amount only. The Aadhar Card and bank account are now irrelevant.
To know more about the “Nation building” related to giving up the subsidy, I visited the ebharatgas website and found the following.
Come Join Us in Nation Building…
We probably do not even realize how fortunate we are to be using LPG over the years and cannot visualize what it is to be without LPG in our kitchens!
Many of us may not know that even after 60 years of intense marketing LPG, only about 64% of India’s population enjoys the benefit of a clean fuel in our homes. This means 36% of our fellow countrymen are deprived of the benefits of a clean fuel and are subjected to a high level of indoor pollution by using polluting fuels for cooking.
In order to reach out to these citizens of the country and save lives that are cut short due to pollution, we need to make LPG available across the country for which the funds are required.
LPG is a highly subsidized commodity in India and the subsidy amount was a whopping Rs. 46,000 crores during 2013-14. Any subsidy provided translates to money out of the exchequer. The same money if not given out as subsidy could be used to make LPG available to those who are today deprived of using it.
We call upon all LPG consumers who can afford to pay the market price for their LPG supply to give up the subsidy entitlement which is to the tune of Rs. 3600/- for 7 cylinders or maximum Rs. 6200/- for 12 cylinders for the whole year and be a part of this nation building exercise. This gesture by us will go a long way to reach clean fuel to every home.
We value your involvement and would like to have your permission to put your name in the ‘Scroll of Honour’ for opting out of Subsidy.
The subsidy is indeed substantial. For example, in Mumbai, a subsidised cylinder is delivered at Rs 448.50, as against a non-subsidised one at Rs 947.00. A saving of Rs 500 to the consumer. How long the subsidy will remain is uncertain. If people do not give up the subsidy, the government can still prioritise its spending, weeding out wastage and unnecessary budgets, to make nation-wide LPG availability a reality.
Getting LPG to remote places would be a noble cause to support. However, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. There are alternate noble causes into which “subsidy” money can be directed. We know how difficult it is to get funding and grants for socially-related projects that ultimately benefit the community.
For now, we have decided that we will continue to take the subsidy and donate the money that we “earn” each time we book a cylinder to organisations such as our neighbourhood lake trust in Bangalore, PNLIT. You can too!