VELLORE/CHENNAI: Nearly 28 lakh beneficiaries of the State Government’s erstwhile free domestic gas scheme are awaiting clarity on migrating to the proposed Direct Benefit of Transfer for LPG (DBTL) regime that would roll out from the New Year. Gas agencies too are not sure how to deal with these people and many have put on hold registration of applications from these people. Oil companies expect the State to announce its policy on this soon.
During the erstwhile DMK regime free gas stoves and LPG connections were distributed to a cross-section of people living below the poverty line (BPL). The Government had paid the deposit for these connections, which were taken in the names of the womenfolk in the BPL families.
Now with the Petroleum Ministry mandating under the DBTL Scheme that the subsidy component for the LPG cylinders would be credited in the bank accounts of the gas connection owners, a large number of beneficiaries are unable to register for the same.
Worse is the plight of those families where the womenfolk in whose name the connection was allotted are no more alive. Munusamy, a 78-year-old resident of Nethaji Nagar in Vellore, is one such consumer. “The Government gave the free gas connection in my wife’s name six years ago. She died in 2011 and now when I went to the gas agency to register for the DBTL, I was turned away saying the ownership of the connection cannot be transferred,” he lamented.
The Indane dealer told Munusamy to surrender the connection and take a fresh connection after paying the deposit, which he cannot afford.
“We have at least 3,000 free LPG beneficiaries as our customers and close to 10 per cent of these beneficiary-families have lost their original allottees,” said the LPG distributor requesting anonymity.
A staff at the Kangeyan Agencies in LIC Colony which caters to around 1,500 free gas beneficiaries said, the allottees have to get a surrender letter from the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation and submit it to the gas dealer to get a fresh connection. However, he was clueless on what basis these customers were being asked to surrender their free gas connections.
“Since we did not receive any specific direction from Indian Oil on dealing with such customers, we have suspended enrolling the legal heirs as successors to the gas connections,” he said.
Vellore District Supply Officer Pitchumani washed his hands of the matter saying he had no role in the DBTL registrations.
However, in Chennai, Commissioner of Civil Supplies, Gopalakrishnan, said all beneficiaries of the free gas scheme would be eligble to register for DBTL. He did not spell out if gas companies have been intimated of the same.
A senior official of a public sector oil company said his representatives had met the Civil Supplies Commissioner recently to discuss the issue as 28 lakh free gas beneficiaries were there in the State.
When asked about the fate of those like Munusamy, he said, it was a grey area. “The State Government had given the free gas connections based on the social status of the individuals. Whether their legal heirs can claim ownership by succession has to be decided by the State.
Only after that we can ascertain their status under the DBTL regime,” he said.