Many LPG users seek to reclaim subsidy benefit

In the last four years, over 67,000 consumers who gave up their liquified petroleum gas (LPG) refill subsidies under the Give It Up Scheme, have opted for the subsidy again.

Till March 31 this year, the number of those who opted back for the subsidy amount in Chennai was 3,620, Tiruvallur was 5,849 and in Kancheepuram it was 1,029. In the State, with connections numbering 2.02 crore, the number of consumers opting as on March 31 is 67,782.

Most of them did not opt out of the subsidy willingly, say officials. “These are usually customers who opt out by mistake. If consumers choose the option to opt out in the Integrated Voice Response System (IVRS) while booking refills, they get opted out automatically. The subsidy amount will not be transferred to their bank account,” said an LPG distributor.

The letter to include them back in the subsidy scheme along with Aadhaar details is usually forwarded by the distributors to the oil company concerned, which in turn removes the block from the system, restoring the subsidy. “If the Aadhaar details match the bank account number, the block will be lifted,” said an oil company official.

Distributors said opting out could be taken out of the IVRS, since it was the reason for most exits. “Getting back the subsidy takes time and there is a physical procedure to be followed. Opting out should also be done in a similar manner so that consumers are not put to unnecessary trouble. Or there should be a confirmatory call from the oil company asking if the customer has indeed opted out,” said consumer activist T. Sadagopan.

Why is the subsidy component integral? In Chennai, in May, one domestic 14.2 kg refill costs ₹728 without subsidy, where ₹244 is deposited into the consumer’s bank account after they pay the full amount on delivery. Some months, the amount could spiral, which means the amount could come to ₹3,000 a year, explained an oil company official.

Otteri resident K. Sankar said his subsidy stopped recently after his children had played with his mobile phone and had accidentally pressed the opt out option. “I have opted for it again by submitting a letter to the agency. They also asked for a photocopy of my Aadhaar card, which I have submitted. I am waiting for the subsidy amount to be deposited for my next booking,” he said.

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