Handful Few LPG Dealers Control Supply In Kashmir

Handful Few LPG Dealers Control Supply In Kashmir

25 October 2012
Deccan Herald


Srinagar: While the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders by the Centre has put consumers in Kashmir in trouble, the genesis of the lingering cooking gas crisis in the Valley lies in limited number of dealers. Official records say there are only 43 LPG dealers operating in the Valley, while as per all India norms there should have been around 1,700 distributors to cater to the requirement of 10 lakh consumers. As per the current dealer-consumer ratio, every dealer in the Valley on an average has to cater to around 23,000 consumers, while the national average is only 600 consumers per dealer. Sources told Deccan Herald that a few dealers, most of whom are connected with politicians, have monopolised the distribution system. “They (existing dealers) don’t allow any new dealership to be allotted in the Valley,” they added. A senior consumer affairs and public distribution department official said that on an average each gas dealer sells 600 to 1,000 cylinders a day, earning a profit of Rs 37 per cylinder. “Each dealer on an average earns more than Rs 20,000 per day, and they fear if more dealers join the market their huge earnings will drop,” he added. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd, Bharat Petroleum Ltd and the Indian Oil Corporation, which distribute LPG in the Valley, have for unknown reasons failed to open new outlets over the years. While HPCL has 26 outlets, OIC has nine and BP seven in Srinagar. Around 80 per cent of consumers are registered with HPCL. “With just 26 outlets catering to a huge number of consumers, people with HPCL connections are the worst sufferers,” the official said. People are now questioning the “dismal” ratio between the number of dealers and consumers. “How can just 43 outlets distribute cooking gas to nearly 10 lakh consumers?” said Muzafar Ahmad, a college professor. Sources attribute the non-opening of new LPG outlets to a nexus between existing dealers and the management of oil companies. Pertinently, in 2007, oil companies had invited tenders for allotting new dealership in the Valley. “But the existing gas dealers created obstacles for oil companies in increasing the number of dealers, forcing them to shelve the tender process,” an executive of an oil company said.