LPG Crisis Worsens: Dealers To Begin 2-day Shutdown Today

LPG Crisis Worsens: Dealers To Begin 2-day Shutdown Today

5 November 2012
Kashmir Times
Syed Basharat

Srinagar: The LPG Dealers Association (LPGDA) on Monday announced a two-day shutdown across the valley commencing from tomorrow as a mark of protest against ‘vague’ cooking gas distribution policies of government and the oil companies operating in the state. Staging a protest demonstration here at Press Enclave, Khurshid Iqbal, president of the Association said: “We want to remove a perceived notion among the people that LPG dealers are involved in black marketing of cooking gas. The reality is that we are caught between the oil companies and the unhelpful state government.” Iqbal added that LPG dealers are equally disturbed and concerned over the plight of people suffering from want of cooking gas. “Dealers have no role in this crisis. Actually, the people are victims of confusing policies of the state, central government and the oil companies operating in the state,” the president of LPG dealers’ association said. Iqbal said that while the state government orders us to issue gas cylinders on ration tickets but on the other hand issuance of gas cylinders on ration tickets is completely forbidden under oil company norms. “The oil companies ask us to strictly adhere to company norms and any deviation from company guidelines invites heavy penalties. We are directly under the control of oil companies who are under the control of petroleum ministry. So should we follow the oil companies or the state government,” Iqbal asked the reporters. Accusing the state government of playing a ‘cruel joke’ with them, Iqbal said his association was subjected to a day long wait for a scheduled meet with the divisional commissioner Kashmir. “We were called by the government for a meeting today. Our members came from far flung areas of Kashmir just to attend this crucial meeting. We reached divisional commissioner and deputy commissioner office at 10:30 but were subjected to wait till 1:30 pm without bothering to attend to us. Finally there was no meeting as the divisional commissioner did not turn up,” president LPG dealers Association told reporters. He added that the two-day shutdown is aimed at conveying to people that they are not involved in black marketing and the government and oil companies were responsible for the current gas crisis in the state. “We do not want people to suffer and wait in long queues to get hold of a gas cylinder. But we are helpless, as there is no clear policy from the oil companies and the central government what to do with the prevailing confusion over cooking gas distribution,” Iqbal added. He said the oil companies have allowed the dealers to issue genuine consumers non subsidized gas cylinder at the cost of Rs 974 till they complete their documentation and the dealers can also issue non subsidized gas cylinder to the consumers with no papers at the cost of Rs 1292 under non domestic exempted category. “This is here when consumers come to us with ration tickets but without having any proper documentation demanding subsidized cylinders. How can we provide them LPG cylinders? This is mere confusion which the state government has failed to clear,” Iqbal said, adding that the government is responsible for this confusion prevailing among masses who think LPG dealers are minting money through black marketing of the cooking gas. The president LPG dealers association also cautioned that it is not possible to complete the documentation of consumers till November 15. “It is not possible by any means. So we also demand the oil companies to extend the deadline for completion of Know Your Customers (KYC) documentation by another few months so that the consumers who are not covered by November 15 are not left to agitate,” Iqbal stressed. Asked about the less number of dealers operating in the state which is considered as one of the main reasons for gas crisis in Kashmir, Iqbal said: “We will welcome the move if the oil companies appoint dealers in thousands but let me tell you that is not possible because it depends on feasibility of the dealership.” Pertinently, on November 3, the High Court which has taken suo moto cognizance of the matter directed divisional commissioner Kashmir to convene a meeting with area mangers of three oil companies operating in the state to identify the locations for new LPG dealerships keeping in view the numbers of consumers in a particular area. Once the locations are identified for 1373 dealerships, the Court had directed oil companies to take steps for appointing dealers-distributors for such locations and complete the process within three months. “The report of modes and methods as shall be worked out by divisional commissioner Kashmir, deputy commissioner Srinagar and director CAPD Kashmir in coordination with the representatives of oil companies in the meeting, as is suggested to be convened by the divisional commissioner Kashmir on November 5, 2012 shall be submitted before the court…” the court had directed. Director CAPD and the oil companies were directed to give vide publicity to the mode and methods adopted and the formalities required to be completed by consumers for revalidating or seeking fresh gas connections. “They shall also work out means for online filing of the Know Your Customer form-application,” the court order reads. The oil companies were also directed to work out the modalities in coordination under supervision of divisional commissioner so as to facilitate the process of ‘providing requisite papers for obtaining gas cylinders in a most simplified manner area wise and street wise.’