MYSORE: Black marketing of domestic LPG cylinders has scaled up in Mysore after the withdrawal of Aadhaar-linked Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), a system of reimbursing subsidy to consumers’ bank accounts directly.
This, along with the hike in the domestic LPG cap from nine to 12 per annum, a UPA government’s bonanza just before the general elections, has led to rapid black marketing of domestic gas, burning a deep hole in the state’s exchequer.
Sources in the Food and Civil Supplies Department and oil companies said the demand for domestic LPG has gone up drastically. But the sale of commercial LPG has come down by 50 per cent, which is a clear indication of thriving black market.
Over 21,000 out of 1.40 lakh Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited’s (BPCL) connections were blocked after the introduction of DBT, a system to reimburse subsidy to consumers’ bank accounts directly.
The connections get blocked if no cylinder was booked for 180 days. But after the authorities withdrew the DBT system four months ago, over 7,000 consumers whose connections had been blocked, revived cooking gas.
More than 800 commercial LPG consumers of BPCL, out of 1,800, were active when the DBT was in place. Now, it has come down to 300, said a BPCL official who does not want to be named.
He said many hotels, dhabas and function halls have either cut down the purchase of commercial cylinders or have stopped it for the past 3-4 months. In one such hotel, company officials found commercial LPG cylinders, though it has not placed order for them for the past three months.
The company officials suspect that hotels might have been refilling commercial LPG cylinder on getting the highly subsidised domestic cooking gas in the black market. The authorities seized 89 domestic and commercial LPG cylinders from an illegal refilling unit in the city on Friday. While a commercial cylinder is priced at Rs 1,650 (19 kg), the domestic one is Rs 418 (14.2 kg).
Food and Civil Supplies Deputy Director K Rameshwarappa said ever since the DBT was withdrawn, it has become a problem to cope with the demand for domestic LPG. He warned domestic consumers of filing criminal cases and disconnecting their connections if they are found selling gas.
Mysore district has topped the country in placing orders for LPG cylinders through Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) from mobile phones. While the national average is around 60 per cent, Mysore has recorded 99.98 per cent.