The mystery of a sudden rise in LPG connections
Almost 5.2 crore connections were added after Aadhaar was linked to LPG purchase for getting Direct Benefits Transfer. The newly added accounts means more than a third, or Rs15,725 crore, of subsidy at 12 cylinders per consumer per year
For the last several years, domestic consumers of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) have been put on gas with repeated changes in the delivery process. The latest is named PAHAL (for Pratyaksh Hastantarit Laabh) and was earlier also known as direct benefit transfer (DBT). Most LPG consumers have lost sleep over the heat each change has generated.
Direct Benefit Transfer or DBT is an initiative to replace subsidised goods or services with electronic transfers of subsidy amounts to beneficiary bank accounts. Under the DBT-for-LPG subsidies (DBTL), households are required to place an order of LPG cylinder from their LPG distributor, pay the full (unsubsidized) market price for the cylinder in cash on delivery, and then receive a payment equivalent to the current subsidy amount via electronic transfer to a bank account registered with their gas distributor. 
Why should the existing process be changed in favour of the DBT?
According to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, the scheme was created in order to remove incentive for diversion of domestic cylinders for commercial use, protect entitlement and ensure subsidy to the consumer, improve the availability/delivery of LPG cylinders for genuine users and to weed out fake/duplicate connections.

The business process


1 Consumer Books the Cylinder

Gas Refill booking XXXXXX for Con XXXXXX Booking Cleared till 01 Dec.14 at ABC AGENCIES. Ask deliveryman to weigh cylinder before delivery
2 Consumer intimated of Cash Memo

Gas Booking No XXXXXX subsidized Cash Memo XXXXXX; Dt 06.12.14 Rs.450,Refill will be delivered shortly. Ask deliveryman to weigh cylinder before delivery.

3 Consumer intimated of Delivery
Gas refill delivered on 06.12.14 vide Cash Memo no.XXXXXX.If not received, provide your feedback on XXXXXXXXXX. Use of smaller Burner Saves Gas.

SMS messages received by domestic customers at each step of the current business process
(Dates used for representation only)

Pre-DBT, the domestic consumers were required to book their refills with oil marketing companies (OMCs). The OMC would generate a Cash Memo and the Distributor would then deliver the cylinder. The OMC would ask the customer to report if the cylinder was not delivered. 
If the customer was within the limit of 12 subsidised cylinders a year, the cash memo was at a subsidised rate; else it was at the market rate.
If the consumers registered with the distributors were all genuine, this scheme provided little opportunity to distributors to divert cylinders without collusion from consumers who did not consume their quota of 12 subsidised cylinders. However, consumers who were not genuine could enjoy the benefit of subsidised cylinders and any supply of cylinders to them was in effect a diversion of subsidised cylinders to those who did not qualify for them.

The re-engineered process post DBT

Post DBT the domestic consumers are still required to book their refills with the OMCs. The OMCs are still required to generate a cash memo and the distributor is still required to subsequently deliver the cylinder. The OMC is still required to ask the customer to report if the cylinder was not delivered.
The cash memo, however, is now to be at the market price. The OMC is now required, each day, to generate a file based on the refill orders delivered and send it to a “Sponsor Bank” (currently State Bank of India-SBI) for transfer of subsidy amounts to eligible consumers. Consumers, who are Cash Transfer Compliant customers, or those who have a bank account linked to their LPG consumer number, will now receive subsidy into the bank account, they linked with their consumer number.
Does the reengineered process post DBT meet the objectives the government set to fulfil?

Diversion of domestic cylinders for commercial use

This change in the process of providing the consumer subsidy does not alter the ability to prevent diversion. If distributors were diverting cylinders in collusion with consumers who did not consume their quota, they can continue to do so. If non-genuine customers were claiming subsidised cylinders, nothing in the reengineered process has altered the ability to recognise genuine consumers from non-genuine. The non-genuine customers can, therefore still continue to consume subsidised domestic cylinders, thus diverting them from genuine consumers.
The reengineered process, thus, does not prevent the diversion of domestic cylinders for commercial use as desired by the scheme.
Protect entitlement and ensure subsidy to the consumer
Almost 96% of those surveyed in a pilot project by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) found the DBT required too much paperwork, requests from multiple authorities for a range of documents including electricity bills, ration cards, bank passbooks and identification cards. This represents a non-trivial cost to access the reengineered process. 
It is therefore evident that the reengineered process actually makes it more burdensome for the consumers and in particular the poor and marginalised, to claim their entitlements. It does not protect the entitlement without having to pay a significant cost. 
The paperwork, requests from multiple authorities for a range of documents are barriers easily overcome by those in organised claim of cylinders beyond their own entitlements. Therefore, by increasing the barrier for genuine consumers, the reengineered process actually ensures the subsidy for those who may be fake or duplicate consumers. In fact, with the process it may be possible to draw subsidy without needing to consume LPG (and pay market prices) as long as the file of orders filled sent to the sponsor bank can include desired consumer numbers.
Furthermore, consumers now have to pay the full market price upfront. Despite the claim that there will be an advance after joining the scheme, participants have reported varying experiences, ranging from excess receipts, no receipts, to under receipts of the advance and subsidy amounts. DBT, therefore, does not ensure subsidy.
To handle the new process more government and non-government agencies are involved. To deal with issues involving the delivery of LPG and DBT more government is required, not less. It is clear that the DBT ends up increasing government, rather than minimising it, as the Prime Minister has repeatedly avowed to do.

Improvement of the availability/delivery of LPG cylinders for genuine users 

The IISD study also found that households reported a shift in expenditure and an increase in short-term household borrowing—especially by poorer households— in order to facilitate purchase of LPG cylinders at the new decontrolled price. There were also attempts to limit the consumption of LPG, including substituting it with firewood or other biomass for some heating and cooking tasks. This means the reengineered process will definitely improve the availability of LPG, but by forcing the poor or marginalised to reduce their uptake of cylinders or by obliging those who can no longer access the subsided cylinders to opt out.
Needless to say that it is actually any fake or duplicate consumers who will benefit from any improvement of availability/ delivery of LPG cylinders from the reengineered process.

Weed out fake/duplicate connections

To participate in DBT, the reengineered process requires the consumer provide their Aadhaar number using “Form 2” and to Bank details using “Form 1” to the LPG distributor. If the LPG consumer does not have an Aadhaar number, they can give their Bank details in “Form 4” the gas distributor or their LPG ID using “Form 3” to the bank. 
The provision of this information does not identify a customer as fake or duplicate. The absence of this information does not mean a customer is fake or duplicate either. However, it is trivial for fake or duplicate consumers to provide any of this information. Thus, this linkage with the bank account does not serve to weed out fake or duplicate connections. Furthermore, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) notification of 28 September 2011 made it possible to open bank accounts without verification. Such accounts can easily be opened by anyone, and in particular by entities that have been enrolment agencies for Aadhaar (since they are in possession of the Aadhaar number, demographic, and biometric details of those real or non-existent persons they have enrolled) as well as anyone with micro ATMs.
It is therefore evident that despite citing it as an objective, there is no step that can weed out fake or duplicates envisaged in the DBT scheme. The DBT obviously fails to protect public interest and deliver good governance.

The reality of connections

LPG consumers increased to 1,387 lakhs in 2011-12 from 845 lakhs in 2004-05 or an average annual increase of about 68 lakh consumers. Between June 2012 and December 2013, over 437.58 lakh new connections were added and 6.51 lakh multiple connections were surrendered (Lok Sabha Starred question No. 401 Dated 21.02.2014). This is 6.4 times the average annual increase of consumers. Between April and November 2014, there were 94.27 lakh new connections and 58.44 lakh Double Bottle Cylinders (DBCs).
This indicates that almost 5.2 crore connections were added after introduction of Aadhaar linkage to LPG consumers and DBT. The newly added accounts, with current practice of calculating subsidy, amount to more than a third, or Rs15,725 crore, of subsidy at 12 cylinders per consumer per year.
It is a well accepted fact that the Aadhaar number is merely a number assigned to unverified and unaudited data submitted by private parties (including banks and LPG distributors) who were paid per record. According to the UIDAI’s own affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, “The implementation of the UID Scheme which inter alia, include generating and assigning UID numbers to residents, defining mechanisms and processes for interlinking UID numbers with partner databases, framing policies and administrative procedures relating to update mechanisms and maintenance of UID database are continuous process involving interaction with agencies, public as well as private and also individuals.” 
Nowhere does this involve certification of identity, address or even existence of individuals.
This gives rise to the possibility that the new connections and linked bank accounts actually include a huge number of fake and duplicate connections. If anything, it is these new accounts that need verification and audit before any reengineered process is effected. 
Furthermore, the possibility of diverting subsidies using the Aadhaar Based Payment Systems (ABPS) for money transfers is real. Even if the government now allows regular bank accounts for making money transfers under DBT, it will still be using the ABPS and this can well allow subsidies to be diverted to fake consumers in bulk. DBT thus appears to serve no public interest but rather stands to benefit private interests who may be involved in organised diversion of subsidy.

The subsidy

How much money is involved? 
The total subsidy budget has risen to Rs46,000 crore for 2013-14 from Rs3,500 crore in 2004-05. This is a 13-fold increase in subsidy. By comparison, the consumers have increased from 845 lakhs to 1,600 lakhs or 1.9 fold in the same period.
How is the subsidy calculated? Public sector OMCs participating in the PDS Kerosene and Domestic LPG Subsidy Scheme, 2002, get to claim a subsidy from the government by submitting data of the confirmed sales. They are expected to pass the subsidy on to the customers.
As per this Scheme, the subsidy amount given to OMCs was to be equal to the difference between the cost price and the invoice price per selling unit (excluding state surcharge, excise duty, sales tax, local levies and delivery charges) computed ex-bottling plant for domestic LPG. The cost price was to be determined on import parity basis as specified in the Scheme and any changes in the cost were to be passed on to the consumer by making changes in the invoice price, which was to be revised periodically by the OMCs.
By calculations implied by this Scheme, it is apparent that only Rs22.58 per cylinder is currently available as subsidy. Additional amounts provided as subsidy beyond this are obviously added to the subsidy claim in deference to government directions that are not in the public domain. 
By allowing any such increase in subsidy by orders of magnitude, contrary to that allowed by the Scheme, has increased the subsidy that is available to divert from genuine consumers.
It is evident that the reengineered process post DBT does not meet any of the objectives the government set to fulfil. What then are the alternatives open to a government that desired minimum government and good governance?
Alternate processes
The OMCs could require consumers to enroll with them, and not with distributors, and have distributors to verify and the government to authenticate such domestic consumers. This would make the process of fake registrations significantly difficult. This one time process would help clean up the consumer database.
Alternately, to ensure that no one is denied subsidised LPG, the government may require that each distributor delivering any entitlement or right will create an ID of the family benefiting from the subsidised cylinder. Such a record would be maintained to identify the beneficiary for future transactions for the delivery of LPG without any hassles as well as to allow any audit of the delivery of LPG. All those having taken benefit would be listed on a public website,, for government authentication and public audit. Each distributor’s list of beneficiaries would be visible on public maps.
Yet another alternate process would be to move subsidy to a tax rebate. It makes little sense to collect the money and then spend it again on a leaky system to give it back. Those who do not want the subsidy will not take the benefit of a tax rebate. This eliminates any cash transfers and registration of fake/ duplicate beneficiaries by different agencies involved in administering subsidies. 
Those who do not file returns could be given a subsidy account linked to their NPR/BPL card by the Finance Ministry to allow them to receive all the subsidies they are eligible for. All such account holders would need physical verification by Branch Managers or Post Masters (if these were postal bank accounts). These accounts would not allow any cash transactions and would only allow claiming the subsidised service at the subsidised price. The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana should actually be this, not the creation of non-operative bank accounts. These beneficiaries too would be listed on for a public audit.
These alternate processes will allow the government to provide good governance with minimum government and thus protect public interest. Is the Prime Minister listening?
(Dr Anupam Saraph is a Professor, Future Designer, former governance and IT advisor to Goa’s former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and the Global Agenda Councils of the World Economic Forum.)
Dayananda Kamath k
9 years ago
when the govt is silent about an mp taking 360 cylinders per year without any action as per rti query, what moral right they have to ask people to give away the subsidy.
yudhishter dutt
9 years ago
Sir, my name is Ramesh Chandra, I have made a mistake, I select opt out of subsidy by mistake please I regret you to cancel my request. My detail about connection is mentioned below:
LPG : 3 7500 0000 9904 3666
Consumer no : RG14157
Consumer Name : Ramesh Chandra
Aadhaar Number : 771711351487
Distributor Code : 103091
Distributor Name : Rana Gas Service, Meerut
9 years ago
Failed to see how the alternative choices would be better than the one being used by the Government. The issue is of false claim of subsidy. This means there must be a complete check on every consumer.
And an audit of the check so carried out. In sum more government than less.
Best option is to pay stamps to those eligible - living below a certain level of income and then let them choose the product for which the stamp is used. May be for cooking gas or medicine or even food.
9 years ago
In individual perspective:
BPCL’s viewpoints have been projected in the published article, - ‘Misuse of LPG has stopped after direct subsidy transfer scheme’(The Hindu). He has commended the twofold advantage of LPG ‘PAHAL’, scheme, so also its inherent “benefit to consumers” as well. By and large, he has placed his bet, and drawn comfort on the recent plunges in crude prices. However, two aspects of the most concern to consumers do not seem to have been squarely and convincingly addressed, being,- 1. the unpredictable burden consumer will be obliged to face depending upon the likely change in crude prices, extremely volatile by nature; and 2. why and how the dreaded ‘misuse’ , brought out in this post, illustratively, is not to be seriously viewed but to be simplistically disregarded. Back to the participating expert contra viewers for favor of a closer review,as to be of help in reinforcing their counter points.

9 years ago
"JAN DHAN" accounts with NIL Balances are opened specifically to enable BJP's UNPRECEDENTED LOOT DHAN Deposits so that no one can screen these JAN DHAN or JALDI DHAN SAMPATI of these BJP Goons
9 years ago
all doings are per
DINAMALAR newspaper ( chennai ) nearly 90 % of the LPG consumers have to pay full payment without receiving subsidy in future. The government not interested in reducing the allowances to the politicians and higher officials.But the politicians and the higher officials eyes are in the low and middle class people's subsidies only
9 years ago
I hear a lot of versions of the LPG subsidy. Don't know who is right who is wrong. BUT, What I am still trying to understand is why is the govt asking us to pay 729 whatever and then return some amount back to us. Doesn't thess electronic transactions cost anything ? Manpower used at both ends LPG distributor and Bank updates. Can we not pay up 452 (the current rate) and put all trouble to rest. Sometimes Aadhar is considered a valid document. But it also says, it does not prove you are an Indian Citizen, then why are we Indians chasing it. What will the next card be ????????
Dayananda Kamath k
Replied to John comment 9 years ago
congress spent thousand of crores rupees on this programme already with a view to not being caught in the scam as verification of voulminous data will be practically impossible. now bjp is trying to utilising that programme. but how it implements is the big question.
Replied to John comment 9 years ago
In continuation to my comment above. And what is the logic of taking my money and returning my money as subsidy scheme - big deal.
Dayananda Kamath k
Replied to John comment 9 years ago
so that you think you have been given benefit by the party and you will vote for it. otherwise how the telecom and it companies will survive. further you are creating mammoth data which can not be easily verified. Congress wanted to hide their corruption by making it impossible to book. and bjp saw a virtue in it and continuing it.
Lalit S Kathpalia
9 years ago
Dr. Anupam, This article is an insight and an excellent case study on how BPR - Business Process Re-engineering can actually result in more inefficiency, inaccuracy and wrong results if done the wrong way or if there are vested interests. It reminds me of MOORE's law - "To err is human but to really foul things up requires a computer" in a modified format "To err is human but to really foul things up AADHAR"
Replied to Lalit S Kathpalia comment 9 years ago
But to keep erring all the time, with no let-up, is inhuman. It is paradoxical that the nomenclature chosen itself has come to prove/turn out to be faulty,rather a faux pas; in that, apart from not providing any positive relief against the erstwhile ongoing evil practices, requires to be provided props/ plug-ins to support/sustain.
Abhijit Nagawade
9 years ago
In rural areas many consumers use only 2 to 4 cylinders per year. The remaining subsidized cylinders were booked in such consumer's name by the LPG dealer and sold in Black.
DBT does avoid this fraud.
Dayananda Kamath k
9 years ago
Earlier the deler used to deliver cylinder to my house but suddenly some 4 years ago he refused to deliver it because of the area demarcation between them But since this dealers godown is near to my house i prefered to get the cylinder myself. But delivery charges are not deducted for me. now yesterday i received a message that gas has delivered for cash memo no. which i never booked nor i have the cash memo with me. so they have started their scheme of diversion. now i am waiting for subsidy to be credited to my account.
swetha sampathkumar
9 years ago
sabse bada swadeshi

"lpg subsidy which was and is never needed as we have its infinite free to cheap indigenous substitutes has almost finished the energy sector and increased gross corruption in and scarcity. Almost same can be said about kerosene . I am unable to understand that how policy maker can subsidize this costliest and imported cooking fuel in presence of its infinite free to cheap substitutes and how 125 crore indians overlooking better substitutes can run only after lpg and kerosene "
What are those substitutes? Our driver who lives in rented accommodation with no documents is neither entitled to a gas connection, nor a subsidy. What should such people do to get a legal gas connection?
Col Ramtri
9 years ago
From: Vinod Sajnani
Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 11:09 AM
To: ...
Subject: Re: The mystery of a sudden rise in LPG connections

Though Ahmedabad has option to switch to Adani Piped Gas, we still prefer LPG Cylinder.
The reason was obvious, Adani's price is controlled by Superman while LPG's price was under control of Mamta didi. :-)
Before they set the limit of 9 or 12 bottles per annum, those who had connections were selling the bottles in black but after putting the restriction on number of bottles, more connections were required to meet the consumption requirement. I believe there must not be steep rise in overall LPG consumption. The new connections only help to avail optimum subsidy benefit.

Small food joints, tea stalls who were earlier using subsidized bottles now pay extra. This volume is huge and it is now trapped.

The only loss to govt is maintenance of additional records and first time benefit of around 430 on linking of aadhar and bank account. Which I also got directly into my bank account :-)

Col Ramtri
9 years ago
From: Arjuna Bahadur
Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 5:09 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Fwd: The mystery of a sudden rise in LPG connections


Col Ramtri
9 years ago
From: Pradeep Sharma
Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 8:38 PM
To: ...
Subject: Re: The mystery of a sudden rise in LPG connections

The guy who wrote this (and made unnecessarily detailed and confusing) piece missed three very obvious possibilities for claiming more than due number of cylinders/ subsidy, He has approached the matter with very limited perspective

In case of LPG

1. there is no way for preventing a LPG consumer from being registered with more than one OMC so any OMC based process is useless until each locality/ area is serviced by just one OMC. That will take decades.

2. As Aadhar is a largely unverified identifier, chances of a person getting multiple Aadhar numbers (whether from same or from multiple addresses) has probably been done. Untangling the Aadhar mess will take decades and cost much much more

3. getting Aadhar and LPG connection in fictitious names or in name of servants/ drivers etc at the same address is not just possible but likely. Similarly there is no co-relation with number of family members or same household, which is a huge failing. This is an area of morals and ethics and cannot perhaps be ever sorted out

Dont forget that chaps in powerful positions used to drawing a huge number of subsidised cylinders will not change in a hurry {Navin Jindal MP - with declared assets of Rs 308 crores in 2014- drew 369 cylinders in a year, including plenty from a connection in name of his late father OP Jindal who died in 2005 !

Similarly, the subsidy on Kerosene is about Rs 30,000 crore ( I think the figure is much higher), which is entirely unregulated/ unchecked

The only solution is to to eliminate subsidy entirely on both LPG and kerosene and not create another monster problem/ avenue for corruption, on rectifying which more time and resources will be wasted


source !.}

source 2 :}

source 3 : Source
9 years ago
"....GOOD governance with MINIMUM government and THUS PROTECT PUBLIC INTEREST" Use of BIG FONT (for selected words / concepts) is simply to provoke anyone to give, if so minded, some serious thought and purpos(iv)ely consider,- are these not pet set of ideologies,offhand scouted for to be addressed /worth listening to by the 'common man', who ultimately holds the master key for any possible solution howsoever remote that be.
On the pet phrase , - 'paper work',that has been almost an obsession and stuck to for ages as an addiction. On the flip side, it stands to reason as to why the two, -paper and donkey have come to stay irresistibly as associated ideas.
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