Non-Aadhaar LPG consumers feel the heat in Bengaluru

With oil marketing companies insisting that all domestic LPG consumers submit their Aadhaar numbers, consumers who have not yet obtained Aadhaar numbers are having a tough time to get their refill cylinders in Bengaluru.

Many non-Aadhaar LPG consumers are having a bitter experience while booking the refill. Request for the refill booking through the Interactive Voice Record System (IVRS) is being denied, citing non-submission of Aadhaar. The gullible consumers are directed to contact the local distributors, who are mounting pressure on them to submit Aadhaar in their own method.

“Recently my request for refill booking was denied at IVRS. When I approached the distributor (Sardanha Agency), I was asked to give a written undertaking on whether I need subsidy on refill cylinder or not. IVRS confirmed my booking only after I submitted the undertaking as asked by the distributor,” Subramanya, a resident of Tyagarajanagar, said.

Subramanya was given three options while giving the undertaking: completely forgo the subsidy; give an assurance that Aadhaar number will be submitted soon; state that he will apply for Aadhaar soon. The oil companies – IOC, BPC and HPC, and their distributors have resorted to pressure tactics though the Union government has not made Aadhaar number compulsory for LPG refill supply.

Some distributors are asking the consumers to submit a copy of acknowledgement of having applied for Aadhaar number in order to book their refill. “Aadhaar is now mandatory for booking the refill. One can even submit a copy of acknowledgement of having applied for Aadhaar,” a representative of Gopi Gas Agency at Chamarajapet told Deccan Herald.

The distributors also said the oil companies are mounting pressure on them to collect Aadhaar number at the earliest. “We have been asked to maintain a database of those who have not submitted Aadhaar number. The company has also asked to collect Aadhaar number from all the customers at the earliest. So, we are asking our customers to submit Aadhaar,” a representative of Hima Distributors in Basaveshwaranagar said.

The oil companies want all domestic LPG consumers to come under Aadhaar-based Direct Benefit Transfer System (DBT), wherein subsidy towards LPG refill will be deposited directly to the bank account. The oil companies had given an option to their customers to either submit Aadhaar-linked bank account number or an ordinary bank account number while implementing DBT.

About seven lakh domestic LPG consumers had submitted their ordinary bank account number, and the oil companies had been depositing the subsidy to their non-Aadhaar bank accounts. Karnataka has about one crore domestic LPG customers.

The oil companies have not been able to verify the authenticity of customers who are getting subsidy to their ordinary bank account. They can ascertain whether these consumers are genuine only by linking their bank account to Aadhaar number, official sources in the oil companies said.

When contacted, IOC Assistant General Manager (LPG) Abhijit Dey denied that the consumers are being forced to submit Aadhaar for booking refill. “It is our desire that all the consumers submit Aadhaar. But we are not insisting anybody nor have we asked any distributor to collect an undertaking,” he claimed.