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Data pertaining to 10,03,770 gas connections received, says Minister
‘There will be no further extension of last date'
BANGALORE: After launching an exercise to get information on the genuine LPG consumers in the State with a view to cancelling bogus gas connections, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister Shobha Karandlaje has turned her attention on the transport mafia, as some contractors are allegedly diverting a large quantity of grain meant for ration card holders to the black market.
Showing a line of officers of her department sorting out the records/data furnished by 38,10,391 LPG consumers, till Monday at the Karnataka Examination Authority (formerly CET office), Ms. Karandlaje said that the practice was that foodgrains were transported from Food Corporation of India godowns to the district and taluk godowns of the State Government.
Later, it was distributed to some 40 to 50 fair price depots in the each taluk.
Till now, the data pertaining to 10,03,770 connections had been received, she said.
The Minister said that her officers had information about some contractors diverting a portion of rice, wheat, sugar and other items to the black market in connivance with the depot owners and officials.
The loss to the Government ran into several crores of rupees. Ms. Karandlaje said that it had been decided to cancel the transport permits for distributing foodgrains to depots.
A fleet of vehicles run by the department would bring the grain from the FCI godowns. Under the new system, each depot had to collect the foodgrains required by it and the entire charges would be met by the Government, she said and hoped that 95 per cent of the fraud could be stopped.
Strangely, there were 1.2 crore families in the State, but 1.6 crore families had obtained ration cards. Of them, 98.5 lakh were BPL families and 60 lakh APL families. Though the Union Government had been releasing foodgrains to only 32 lakh BPL families, the State Government was distributing subsidised grain to 98.5 lakh families, incurring a monthly loss of Rs. 80 crore to Rs.100 crore.
Denying the charge that the exercise was to harass the LPG consumers, the Minister said the State Government was only helping the Centre and gas companies save huge funds. Some research groups, which met her, had lauded the efforts and said this could be extended to other States and millions of bogus gas connections could be detected and cancelled.
The bogus BPL families were also misusing the facility and enjoying schemes such as Bhagyalakshmi and widow pension, burdening the exchequer.
The department Principal Secretary B.A. Harish Gowda said the RR No. (Revenue Register number maintained in the erstwhile Karnataka Electricity Board) was chosen as it was easy to collect information and eliminate ineligible connections. There were hardly any family which did not have electricity connection. The process of elimination would start after 45 days. In the rural areas, ration cards were considered for the purpose. Quoting the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Regulation of Supply and Distribution Order), 2000 stipulated that the Government could cancel the gas connections, if it was illegally obtained or misused.
She said that connections of genuine consumers would be restored only after verifying their documents.
She was asked what would happen if two or more families, who were related, lived separately in the same address and had more than one gas connection, and the Minister said that they would not be affected. She made it clear that the last date for receiving the information sought by the Government from people would not be extended beyond February 28.
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