Srinagar, Oct 10: Incredible but true! Just 43 LPG dealers are catering to nearly one million consumers in Kashmir Valley.
Where the small number of outlets in the Valley has always been affecting the delivery of gas, it has made the KYC process highly cumbersome for the consumers.
The three oil companies namely Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited, Bharat Petroleum Limited, and Indian Oil Corporation distributing LPG in the Valley, have failed to open new outlets over the years.
Interestingly, the Centre government launched Rajiv Gandhi Gramin LPG Vitaran Yojana (RGGLVY) in October 2009.
The scheme is aimed to set up small size LPG distribution agencies to increase rural penetration and to cover remote as well as low potential areas (locations having potential of 600 cylinders (refill sales) per month.
But the scheme has failed to take off in Kashmir. “The existing gas dealers are creating hurdles in the implementation of RGGLVY here that is why it has not been properly implemented in the Valley,” a senior officer of CAPD said.
However he added that the department shall “force the oil companies to open new outlets in terms of RGGLVY so that the common consumer is spared of the inconvenience of waiting in long queues outside the gas agencies for getting his/her documents verified,” he said.
According to official sources, “the oil companies are hand in glove with gas dealers and are deliberately hindering every plan to increase the dealerships/number of dealers in order to provide benefits to existing dealers.”
Sources said the little number of gas dealers have created a sort of monopoly in the market. “Every gas dealer has scores of large and small areas under its control. That naturally affects the smooth delivery system of gas. And now when the customers have been asked to verify their documents, they are facing terrible problems,” experts said.
Sources alleged that the dealers have developed a vested interest in not allowing any increase in the number of further dealers.
Experts raise serious questions over the “dismal” ratio between number of dealers and consumers. “How can only 43 outlets be able to distribute cooking gas to nearly 10 lakh consumers,” they said, adding that the small number of dealers also means that the verification process will take months together besides giving lot of trouble to the consumers.
As per the current dealer-consumer ratio, every dealer on an average caters to 23,000 consumers. “This is mind boggling. How can you appoint one single dealer to cater about 25,000 consumers,” experts said.
To mention the HPCL has 26 outlets, OIC nine outlets and BP seven in the summer capital. According to experts more than 80 per cent consumers are registered with HPCL. “The consumers of HPCL are the most sufferers. Due to huge number of consumers registered with this company and just 26 outlets to cater to them, they face severe problems,” they said.
It is pertinent to mention here that after new LPG policy came into effect the cap on subsidized LPG cylinders has been fixed at six cylinders a year.
After the consumption of six subsidized cylinders, consumers have to pay non – subsidized rates of cooking gas cylinders, which will be notified by oil companies keeping in view fluctuating crude oil prices at international market.
However in Kashmir, people are facing lot of problems due to absence of requisite documents which according to oil companies are mandatory to get gas refills.
In this context less number of dealerships here has added to the woes of common people, as documentation takes lot of time because of few outlets and less manpower at these dealerships to update documents of consumers and provide blue/ red book to them.