NEW DELHI: About two crore consumers who had given up cooking gas subsidy or never received one can get the benefit by asking their gas agency at a time when rapidly rising crude oil price is making the kitchen fuel expensive, oil company executives said.
Rocketing oil prices have pushed up the domestic rate of non-subsidised cooking gas by Rs 389 a cylinder, or 79%, in the last two years, the steepest among all dominant kitchen fuels in the country, setting a chatter among consumers if they can reclaim subsidy they gave up a few years ago.
By comparison, the price of cooking gas sold below market rates has risen just 17.6% in two years. This has meant a sixfold rise in subsidy to Rs 376.6 on a 14-kg cylinder from Rs 62.9 two years ago.
The country has about 24.5 crore cooking gas customers, of which 8.3%, or about two crore customers do not receive subsidy. About 1.04 crore customers gave up subsidy in the last couple of years, responding to a call by the government to surrender subsidy so that scarce state resources can be allocated to the needy.
Along with the government’s GiveItUp campaign, the oil companies also began giving new customers the option of not availing subsidy. The two crore customers not receiving subsidy also include those who have failed to submit their bank account or Aadhaar details for transfer of subsidy as well as those who have an annual taxable income of over Rs 10 lakh.
So anyone planning to receive cooking gas subsidy must submit a request to her gas agency with a declaration that her annual income is Rs 10 lakh or less, a company executive said. Aadhaar and bank account details would also be necessary for receiving the benefit.
By reallocating subsidy from better-off to poor customers, the government has been able to expand the use of cleaner cooking gas at a faster pace.
Low oil price and deregulation of petrol and diesel sales also helped as fuel subsidy remained low. But a sharp rise in crude oil prices is reversing the trend. The cooking gas subsidy is expected to jump to Rs 30,000 crore in 2018-19.