Despite the confusion over the distribution of LPG cylinders in the city, there is hardly any move to set up a district consumer protection council to address the issues.
The district consumer protection council is a statutory body which will have the District Collector at its helm. It will have the authority to directly intervene into the consumers’ issues. If functioned properly, the body can address complaints pouring in from across the state in a time-bound manner.
The only attempt undertaken by the authorities in this regard was to convene an open forum a year ago, but it had to be called off owing to the tussle between customers and companies.
Highly-placed sources with the Ernakulam Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum said the open forum does not have the right to take any decision whereas the consumer protection council will have the right to take appropriate decision to solve any issues.
“If the council gets any written complaint, they can intervene and take action against the faulty companies. Issues regarding linking of Aadhaar Card with LPG could have been easily solved once this body is set up,” they said.
Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Minister Anoop Jacob said that the department has send every documents in this regard. “But, we are yet to get the list of the nominee from the Centre and the Law Department is yet to give an approval for our demand,” he said. The district council cannot be formed until we constitute a state protection council, he added.
Meanwhile, the confusions regarding LPG distribution shows no sign of ebbing with a consumer from Angamali saying that the gas agencies were taking an additional `50 for a cylinder, though the District Collector has quoted a fixed rate.
The additional amount can be charged only if the distance exceeds 5 km from the fixed destination. “The usual charge is `442 but they take `470 to
`490. My house is just 2 km away from the fixed place. This has been happening for many months. But, the receipt given by them shows `439,” he said.
They allege that gas agencies under two prominent companies were harassing the customers after entering into a mutual agreement. “Both charge the same amount and we suspect that this is to avoid any kind of bickering between the agencies under them,” they said.
Similarly, another customer from Kakkanad said though they receive the confirmation of their applications after booking, the next day they got another intimation that it has been cancelled. The reason stated is an error in the software of their company,” said Suresh Kumar.
Sources with the forum said the protection council could easily solve these problems.
“Since the council will have the participation of people’s representatives and government departments, it could easily solve any issues concerning these departments.