IMPHAL, Oct 25: Even as the general public reel under the acute shortage of cooking gas triggered by the ongoing economic/counter blockade, the LPG quota for the political class, bureaucrats and high ranking police officials has been on the rise in line with the agitation prolonging with each single day.
Filled LPG cylinders are however available in the black market with the price ranging from anywhere between Rs 1500 to Rs 2000 per cylinder, forcing many to opt for charcoal.
Information disclosed to The Sangai Express by some LPG distributors illustrate that number of LPG refills demanded by Ministers/MLAs at present ranges between 50 to 60 on a particular day of distribution.
Such blatant insistence to the distributors by the Ministers and MLAs as well as similar demands from bureaucrats and police is said to have been compelling authorised LPG distributors to tamper with rules and guidelines of the Ministry of Petroleum with regard to sale of LPG refills to the valid customers.
Conceding that demand of the genuine consumers could not be complied with by the LPG distributors, who have been facing problem of LPG shortage even when there is no bandh or blockade, the distributors contended that the present norm is insistence by the MLAs/Ministers to provide them 50-60 LPG refills.
Citing such insistence as one of the chief factors for the general public unable to acquire LPG refills even though deserving, the distributors revealed that the problem gets complicated as ‘orders’ are normally received from bureaucrat officers, top police officials and their sub-ordinates to also provide them ‘a few’ of the cooking gas subsequently resulting in the reduction of the quantity meant for the general public.
It is further revealed that when problem of LPG refills surfaced in the initial phase of the economic blockade the ‘quota’ of MLAs/Ministers used to be in the range of 20 on the day of distribution which steadily increased to more than double the figure corres- ponding to the number of days/months of the ongoing agitation.
They further disclosed that at the behest of MLAs/Ministers, quota of 50-60 LPG refills are being demanded for local organi- sations thereby leading to the distributors having to face a volley of complaints from the genuine customers.
Contrary to the said ‘demands’, the IOC Gas Bottling Plant at sekmai has no room for additional allotment to the authorised LPG distributors, whose provision is based on the date of booking by the card holders.
Under prescribed norms allotment is made to LPG card holders irrespective of the consumers being Ministers or holding high offices, the distributors explained for all concerned while pointing out that under the guideline of the Union Ministry of Petroleum an individual consumer is entitled to 14 LPG refills in a calendar year.
In case annual requirement exceeds the prescribed number, additional provision will be based on verification by Field Officer of the IOC, they maintained and acknowledged that in Manipur even the minimum requirement could not be ensured.
As per norms, a consumer is entitled an LPG refill after lapse of 25 days from the last allotment and there is no guideline that there should be booking after a specific period of delivery as is the current practice in the State.
Record of LPG refill allotment to distributors is also maintained at the Sekmai bottling plant through a computer network linking the distribution system in the entire Nation, confided the distributors and informed that deviation in any form in allotment deviation in any form in allotment could be traced.
In order to oblige to demands of MLAs/Ministers, bureaucrats and police officials along with the principle to serve the public, distributors are constrained to provide fictitious names of consumers occasionally resulting in detection of the misleading information leading to embarrassing situation, they confessed.
the distributors further revealed that contrary to 25 days period for allotment of fresh LPG refill some of them have backlog of more than 3-5 months.
Source: The Sangai Express