The government will unveil a new policy to allot LPG distribution licences on June 3. Under the latest scheme, touted to be more transparent, successful candidates will be selected through ‘electronic lottery,’ and there would be no special dispensation quota, said a top petroleum ministry official.
PSU oil marketing companies — IOC, BPCL and HPCL — aim to increase the national cooking gas coverage to 75% with a minimum 60% coverage at the state level and at least one distributor in each block by 2019, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan had informed the Lok Sabha on March 14.
The government added more than 3.7 crore new domestic LPG consumers in two years to take the number to 16.7 crore. Another five crore new connections would be offered to women from BPL households under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana till FY19 and the Centre has allocated R8,000 crore for the same.
Citing reasons for opting electronic lottery to select successful candidates, the official, quoted above, told FE that there were at least 25 complaints in the past where the lottery had been manipulated. Some of the results were cancelled. With the help of technology, the electronic lottery of eligible candidates would prevent human interference.
One of the instances where the petroleum ministry came across cases of manipulation was when the slip with the names of the candidate was kept in a deep freezer for longer time. At the time of picking up the names of successful candidates in a lottery, the selector picked up the ‘coldest’ slip.
The petroleum ministry has also denied media reports that the government has kept discretion quota, meaning that it has the right to offer LPG distributorship to a particular candidate without going through the normal selection process. The official said while seeking industry feedback on the policy there were recommendations that special dispensation should be offered to families of defence personnel who were killed fighting terrorists and Naxalities.
“The government has decided that there would be no special dispensation category,” added the official. The government targets to immediately roll out nearly 10,000 new distributors. It takes about two years from the start of the selection process to setting up of distributor.
The new policy aims to remove bottlenecks faced previously. For instance, norms related to education qualifications, bank deposits, etc would be final. These clarities were absent in the previous policy.
There are 17,543 LPG distributors in the country as on January 2016. About 57,12,383 LPG connections have been issued to BPL families under the subsidy scheme till date.
For the current year (2016), against the projected demand of 21 million tonne, the projected availability of indigenous LPG in the country is 11.1 million tonne. To meet this demand, imports of 9.9 million tonne have already been tied up.