CHENNAI: Taking exception to the Centre’s move to scrap supply of subsidised kerosene through the Public Distribution System (PDS), Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give up any such proposal as it would be a harsh and punitive measure for the people of Tamil Nadu. He also requested the Centre to not to proceed with transferring the subsidy element by cash or other alternatives.
Writing to the Prime Minister, he reiterated Tamil Nadu’s long standing request to restore monthly kerosene allocation to its full requirement of 65,140 kilo litres per month in order to ensure that the poor and the middle classes were saved from unnecessary hardship.
The Chief Minister referred to reports about the Union Finance Ministry having taken a decision to ask States to provide subsidised kerosene only to un-electrified households and that States which had achieved near 100 per cent electrification would be incentivised to become kerosene-free. In the remaining States, un-electrified households would be given a choice to choose between cash subsidy in lieu of kerosene allocation and upfront subsidy for greener solar lighting systems. This decision has been taken reportedly on an interpretation based on the 2011 Census data that kerosene is not the fuel of choice for cooking and is used primarily for lighting purposes.
Panneerselvam pointed out that in many parts of Tamil Nadu, particularly in rural areas, most households use kerosene as the main cooking fuel. Kerosene was also used as a supplementary and starter fuel apart from being used for supplementary lighting purposes in remote areas.
“Further, most households which have LPG connections, even in urban areas, have only a single cylinder connection which means they rely on kerosene as a supplementary fuel”, he said and and recalled the observation of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa that not providing sufficient allocation of kerosene would have environmental consequences due to the greater use of firewood. A complete elimination of subsidised kerosene would be an environmental disaster.