There is no end in sight for the ‘kitchen worries’ in Ernakulam district in connection with linking of Aadhaar number with LPG connection and bank account of consumers, for, there is a wide mismatch in numbers.
In addition, many people are reluctant to link their Aadhaar number to the gas agencies. Some consumers have either linked their Aadhaar number to gas agencies or to the bank account. To avail themselves of the subsidy, customers have to link their Aadhaar number to both the gas agency and the bank.
“There are 9.18 lakh LPG consumers in the district of whom 4.87 lakh (53.09 per cent) are eligible for subsidy. Though 5.99 lakh people have linked their Aadhaar number with the gas connection they have not linked it with their bank account and are hence ineligible for the subsidy. But according to the census data in 2011, there are only five lakh LPG consumers in the district. Since 9.18 lakh is the official figure with oil companies there may be duplicate connections numbering about 3 lakh,” said K R Jayaprakash, Lead Bank District Manager.
According to statistics, the total population of Ernakulam district is 32.8 lakh, but over 38 lakh people enrolled for Aadhaar number in the district which proves that there is rampant overlapping or duplication. As per the official data of Unique Identification Authority of India, 28.83 lakh people in the district have got their Aadhaar number so far. Official figures show that there are over 7 lakh households in Ernakulam district. But there are over nine lakh LPG consumers. K M Ibrahim, Akshaya Assistant District Coordinator, Ernakulam, said that people who have taken the Aadhaar number are not willing to link it to the gas connection for fear that duplicate connections would be found out. “The number of people who link their Aadhaar number with gas connection may not increase much as there are many duplicate connections in the district,” he said.
But Biju V O, a native of Kadavanthra, has not linked his gas connection with Aadhaar number owing to the intricacies related to it. “I am still not aware how the subsidy works out after linking the gas connection with Aadhaar number and bank account. If I link my account, the amount credited to my account will be lesser because of the tax,” he said. Nazar, a native of Fort Kochi said that though he received the Aadhaar number, his mother has not. “The LPG connection is in my mother’s name. Since she had not received the Aadhaar number I wanted to change it to my name. But the agency said that it will take at least six months. It is near impossible to take my mother to a bank to open an account. Now I have been forced to pay the non-subsidised amount for the LPG cylinder which is unaffordable,” he said.
Meanwhile, customers queued up in front of the office of the gas agencies with many queries on Thurday. “Most people are confused and worried as they are not aware of the regualtions. I am having a tough time tackling them,” said Derrick D’couth, manager, Surya gas agency.
“Cooking gas has now become a luxury which the ‘aam aadmi’ cannot afford,” said Sudhakaran P R, a consumer “We depend only on gas. So, the government should at least increase the number of subsidised gas cylinders from 9 to 12,” said Simi Brutus, a housewife.
“Since morning people are reluctant to take gas at the new price. So we have stopped supplying gas. The supply has come down from 500 cylinders to about 124 cylinders per month,” said Mathappan N V, a gas delivery agent. “To top it all, consumers take their ire on us. “I am yet to get my Aadhaar card although I applied six months ago. So I have to buy it at the exorbitant price,” he said. “While the government is prompt in hiking prices, the same zeal should be shown in issuing Aadhaar cards so that the common man can enjoy its privileges,” said Rejani Sukumaran, a customer.