Sharad Rao and his union may be thrilled about the auto and taxi fare hikes, but it will be the common man who will have to bear the brunt of yet another price hike — that of LPG cylinders, which has been increased by Rs 11.42 from today.
Since September 14, the Central government has already imposed a ceiling on the sale of LPG cylinders — only six per financial year can be sold per household. With only five months to go before the financial year ends, citizens are not entitled to more than 3 LPG cylinders at a subsidised rate during the period. A hike in the prices only adds to public woes.
“The consumer will have to pay Rs 434.42 per cylinder instead of the earlier Rs 423 under the subsidised rate and without a subsidy the rate per cylinder will be around Rs 894. Also the dealer commission has been increased from Rs 25 per cylinder to Rs 34 per cylinder,” reveals a South Mumbai-based distributor for Hindustan Petroleum cylinders, on condition of anonymity.
He slammed reports suggesting that the State government is offering a subsidy on 3 more LPG cylinders apart from the 6 cylinders from central government. “We have not received an official circular from our head office about it. Until such an order comes, we will distribute only 6 cylinders to consumers and charge them the market rate on additional cylinders,” said the distributor.
When asked whether this will lead to more black marketing of cylinders in open market, the distributor replied in the negative. A new system of distribution of LPG cylinders is being introduced, he claimed. Specially designed software is being uploaded at every distributor terminal, which will be directly connected to the petroleum company server, each booking order will be reflected and the cash memo will automatically quote the price with subsidy and without subsidy. Also it will be mandatory for every household to display the consumer card, which needs to be signed by both the delivery man and the customer, failing which no dispute will be entertained by the company.
Ghatkopar-based marketing consultant Gautam Bhatt is not satisfied with the claims the oil companies or the government is making. “An increase in prices is not justified, because consumption across the world has reduced drastically. The government needs to withdraw the hike. Also, the government is tight-lipped about petroleum by-products on which they usually make huge profits and that benefit is never passed on to the common public,” he said.
With the hike in LPG prices, the commission for Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) distributors will see an increase too. “Earlier, distributors received Rs 25.83 as commission per cylinder. With the hike, their commission t will increase to Rs 37.25 per cylinder,” said a senior official of BPCL, who did not wish to be named.
Raj Purohit, the city chief of BJP said, “This new hike in LPG is like rubbing salt on the injury of the common man, the government is showing its true face now. Our women’s wing is going to protest against this hike at the Azad Maidan on October 12.”