All ration card holders, irrespective of income limits and colour, could have received favourable news on the eve of Diwali regarding supply of LPG cylinders at subsidised rates. However, that possibility has been dashed for some, as the cash-strapped state government decided to only extend this benefit to yellow and orange ration card holders and exclude white ration card holders. Yellow and orange ration card holders will be entitled to nine LPG cylinders, which is three more than what the central government decided to offer.
The Congress-led state government’s decision came yesterday following directives issued by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, soon after the UPA government’s announcement to increase LPG costs.
According to sources, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Anil Deshmukh proposed the subsidy for all - approximately 1.20 crore - LPG cylinder consumers in the state. But approximately Rs 1,800 crore would be required to ensure everyone was covered.
A cabinet member said on condition of anonymity that the government was cash-strapped and needed large sums of money to pay government employees dearness allowance (DA), and to ensure water reached drought-stricken areas of the state. After debating all issues for over an hour, the cabinet decided to exclude white ration card holders from the list, thereby curtailing costs to Rs 1,280 crore.
According to a minister, a rider was also decided, under which subsidy would be offered on the number of cylinders used last year. “If a family used seven cylinders last year, they would be entitled to just one subsidized cylinder this year. Had all LPG cylinder consumers been included under the scheme, it would have politically benefited the state,” the ministersaid.
Meanwhile, the BJP has criticised the state government’s decision. State unit chief Sudhir Mungantiwar said his party would continue to demand 12 cylinders at subsidized rate.