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LPG consumers left in the lurch

Staff Reporter

They wait for 30 days for Indane refills

TIRUNELVELI: Even as consumers of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited are getting the gas refill cylinders promptly on the fourth or fifth day from the date of booking, LPG customers of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) here are getting the refill cylinder only after 30 days.

When IOC received complaints from some areas in Madurai during last January that the waiting period for cylinders has gone up to 40 days, Senior Area Manager, IOC, Madurai Area Office D. Murali had then assured that delivery of cylinder would be normal in 15 days as the “peak season” (festivals and winter season) was about to end.

However, the situation has further worsened in Tirunelveli district as this waiting period has extended up to 30 days. Most of the distributors here attribute this prolonged waiting period to “short supply of LPG cylinders by the oil company”.

Demand for the LPG cylinders has reached all time high as good number of commercial establishments liberally use the cylinders meant for domestic purpose as no frequent and surprise raids are conducted. Another factor is that the domestic LPG cylinders are being illegally used by some of the autorickshaw drivers and car owners as fuel. Illegal units working at Thatchanallur and outskirts of Tirunelveli town transfer the LPG in the domestic cylinders to the gas kit in the cars or autorickshaws after collecting only service charge when the vehicle owner brings the cylinder. Or they charge Rs. 600 or Rs. 700 to transfer the LPG from the cylinders they have stored.

“These units buy the cylinders mostly from the consumers for Rs. 400 or Rs. 450 and get a profit of Rs. 200 to 250 per cylinder,” revealed an autorickshaw driver.

“Since our customers have the liberty of booking for the refill cylinder immediately (which could be done only after 21 days previously) after the supply of the previous cylinder, it now takes 24 or 25 days for the supply of the refill cylinder. We've not received any complaint that the consumers had to wait for 30 days,” said Mr. Murali, adding that the IOC officials, apart from their routine work, were conducting raids in suspected areas to curb the illegal use of LPG cylinders.

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