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20,000 from TN say no to LPG subsidy

CHENNAI: Nearly 20,000 LPG customers in TN have voluntarily opted out of subsidy following the Centre’s nation building campaign, an RTI application filed by TOI shows. Tamil Nadu has 1.54 crore LPG customers. 
The RTI reply said that Indane’s 16,002 customers and Bharat’s 1,935 customers in the state have given up their subsidy component after the campaign. HP gas refused to provide the details under RTI, but sources said less than 1,500 HP customers in TN have surrendered their LPG subsidy. 
According to Indane, 1.16 lakh customers across the country has opted out their LPG subsidy as on March 13, of which maximum customers are from Uttar Pradesh (49,054) followed by Delhi (25,700), Tamil Nadu (16,002) and Bihar (9,924). Similarly, 31,654 customers of Bharat gas have surrendered their subsidy with Uttar Pradesh on the top with 13,840 customers followed by Maharashtra (4,423), Karnataka (2478) and Tamil Nadu (1935). 
Oil company officials said less than 1% of the 16 crore LPG customers in the country has surrendered the component so far. “We have been creating awareness campaigns asking customers to surrender the subsidy but the response remains poor,” said an official. In 2013-14, the Centre provided Rs46,000 crore subsidy to 15 crore connections in the country. 
In Chennai, the subsidy per 14.2 kg cylinder is Rs 215. Even if a family uses up its full quota of 12 cylinders in a year, they sacrifice Rs2,580. R Venkataramani, a resident of Mogappair West, who surrendered the subsidy, said: “Ideally, everyone in the country who can afford to buy cylinders at the market price should opt out of the subsidy scheme to reduce the burden on the government. The government can use the saved money for infrastructure projects.”
Across the country, several central government employees including that of the oil companies have given up their LPG subsidy. Companies like Tata, Reliance, Adani and Vedanta have recently urged their employees to give up the subsidy component. Apart from informing the LPG distributor directly, people can visit the website (www.givitup.in) to avoid any hassle. Once an individual signs up to receive non-subsidized LPG cylinders, his or her name will be featured on a ‘scroll of honor’ on the respective company’s website in recognition of their contribution. 
However, some are not convinced. “I don’t think it makes a difference if I sacrifice the LPG subsidy. When the government is unable to stop inflation, why should I give up my subsidy. The authorities should first plug leakage in the system,” said a resident of Nandanam. 
Meanwhile, 17.15 lakh customers in TN are yet to enroll under the direct benefit transfer of LPG scheme, known as ‘Pahal.’ Oil companies have granted time till June to those LPG consumers who haven’t enrolled yet as the subsidy due to them will be transferred to their bank account once the enrollment is completed. “If they do not enroll till June, they will have to purchase cylinders at market price from July, and they will not be eligible for subsidy.” said an oil company official.