Hyderabad: The Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) subsidy for refilling of 14.2 kg cylinder provided by the Union government has come down to Rs 16 from about Rs 300 six years ago in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada. Worried and burdened with the reduction in subsidy and the continuous increase in LPG prices, low income families are voluntarily joining protests on roads against the fuel price hikes in the state.
Notably, the LPG cylinder refill price touched Rs 841 per refill in Vijayawada on Monday, March 1.
After coming to power, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government has introduced Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) for LPG consumer (DBTL) scheme and boasted it as a ‘phenomenal success’ despite reservations from several quarters. What followed in the past few years is a systematic reduction in the subsidy amount every year without even providing the rationale for slabbing the subsidy.
This financial year (2021-22), the Finance Ministry slashed the allocation for petroleum subsidy (including LPG subsidy) drastically to Rs 12,995 crore from Rs 36,072 crore.
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As per the DBTL, subsidy receiving customers pay the market price of LPG to the distributor and the subsidy is transferred directly to their bank accounts.
“For the last several months, I have been receiving only Rs 16 for every LPG refill. Then where is the difference between subsidised and non subsidised consumers,” questioned Dhanalakshmi, an Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) in Vijayawada.
According to reports, the fall in LPG subsidies is witnessed across the country. Talking about the reduction in subsidy, Babu Rao of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Vijayawada said, “Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appealed to the people from high income groups to give up the LPG subsidy. But, now, the Union government is forcefully taking away the subsidy from low and middle income families while increasing the prices.”
In Tamil Nadu, the LPG subsidy was just Rs 25 per refill in January this year. In several other parts of the country, consumers did not even receive any subsidy amount in the last nine months while they are supposed to receive the subsidy amount before every next refill.
Reportedly, as of February, over Rs 21,000 crore in subsidy was pending across the country.
According to a report in the Mint, the Finance Ministry has planned to gradually increase the price of subsidised cooking gas.