HC steps in: Seeks details on dealer-consumer ratio

Asks Govt To Enumerate Steps Taken To Avoid Monopolization Of Cooking Gas Trade By Dealers

D A RASHID

Srinagar, Oct 31: Taking cognizance of the LPG crisis and media reports about limited number of cooking gas dealers operating in the state, Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday directed the government to come up with the data on the number of dealers required for the proper distribution of gas cylinders among the consumers and how many were presently in place.
The significant direction was passed by a division bench of High Court comprising Justice Muhammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice Hasnain Massodi while taking suo-moto cognizance reports published in Greater Kashmir and other newspapers about the distressing situation people are facing following cap on distribution of subsidized gas cylinders and the restricted number of LPG dealers operating in the state.
The court asked the government to report before, on the next date of hearing November 2, 2012, about the number of distributors presently operating in the Valley and additional number of distributors required to smoothen the cooking gas supply.
It also asked the government to furnish details about the total requirement of gas cylinders to be distributed per day and what is the supply position.
The court asked the government to indicate in the affidavit mode and method for revalidating the papers of the consumers and the mode adopted for providing papers to the consumers who posses gas connections but do not have papers for one or the other reasons.
It asked the respondents to indicate in the affidavit the number of counters that have been opened in the valley for providing necessary papers for collection of gas cylinders.
“What steps have been taken by the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and CAPD Department for exercising effective control for proper distribution of gas cylinders and for avoiding chance of monopoly of LPG trade by dealers,” the court asked the government. The court directed the government to indicate the steps taken by CAPD department for ensuring supply of gas cylinders till papers are supplied to the consumers.
“Whether the crisis as have emerged in view of the defective distribution of gas cylinders has been taken care of, if yes mode and method be indicated,” the court said.
Observing that the public sufferings regarding the cooking gas crisis appear to have not been mitigated, the court said it was constrained to take cognizance of the matter in the interests of public at large.
While directing to register the matter as Public Interest Litigation, the court arrayed Commissioner Secretary to Government CAPD, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Director CAPD department Kashmir, and deputy commissioner Srinagar as party respondents.
The Advocate general M I Qadri informed the court that various measures have been taken by the government for smooth and proper distribution of the cooking gas cylinders but the court held; “We are disturbed to see the captions as have appeared in various newspapers which demonstrate as to how people are suffering and made to wait in long queues”.
“The consumers are shown to be running from pillar to post, anxiety among the masses is projected to be very grave and humanistic approach in distribution of gas cylinders appears to have become casualty,” the court held.
While M I Qadri represented the government, the court asked Jehangir Iqbal Ganaie to assist the court.
Pertinently, as reported by GK on October 22, there are only 43 gas dealers operating in the Valley while as per all–India norms there should have been around 1700 distributors here to cater to the requirement of 10 lakh LPG consumers. As per the current dealer-consumer ratio, every dealer in the valley on an average caters to around 23,000 consumers while as per all-India norms a dealer has to cater to 600 consumers.
Catering to such a massive number of consumers makes the dealers to earn huge profits out of the cooking gas business that is why they don’t allow any new dealerships to be allotted in the valley, say insiders. “The dealers are entitled to a profit margin of Rs 37 per LPG cylinder and normally each gas dealer sells around 600 to 1000 cylinders a day. That means they earn more than Rs 20, 000 per day,” said an official of CAPD adding that they (gas dealers) fear if more dealers join the market their huge earnings will drop drastically.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 31 Oct 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 31 Oct 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 1 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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