Cuttack, Oct. 1: The cap on subsidised LPG cylinders to six a year per household not only has home-makers seeing red, its knock-on effects also appear to have torn into the budget of hostel kitchens of colleges and universities.
Most educational institutions have been forced to increase mess charges, while some others have reduced the number of meals per day. Hostel boarders are also reeling from the scarcity of cooking gas cylinders after oil companies started asking for commercial rates for the cylinders.
Sources at Ravenshaw University here said they had not received LPG cylinders since last week after Indian Oil Corporation, which used to supply one cylinder at the domestic rate of Rs 410, asked the varsity on September 14 to buy cylinders at the open market price of Rs 1,048.
Consequently, food preparation at Ravenshaw’s hostels has been hit with new PG hostel students alleging that no meal has been cooked at their mess since yesterday.
University officials said nearly 3,000 students stay in the 10 hostels that require at least four LPG cylinders a month.
“Our monthly requirement is 400 cylinders, but we haven’t received even one as the distributor has asked us to buy them at commercial rates. We are planning to use firewood at all other hostels,” said a senior official, adding that a hike of Rs 4 to Rs 8 had been effected for each meal.
“Earlier, we were paying around Rs 32 for two meals a day, which has been hiked to almost Rs 42. It is a huge burden on us,” said Saubhagya Swain, a student.
Today, the students also gheraoed Ravenshaw vice-chancellor B.C.Tripathy, who said the supplier was trying to create an artificial shortage of cooking gas cylinders.
“We have written to the general manager of Indian Oil Corporation and the district collector to provide LPG cylinders at domestic rates,” said Tripathy.
At Shailabala Women’s College, the number of meals per day has shrunk from three to two. “We have cut our LPG consumption and are serving only two meals a day,” said principal Roshanara Begum.
Sources said the college, which had hiked mess charges from Rs 750 to Rs 900-1,100 for various hostels following rise in vegetable price, has not received any cylinders in the past fortnight.
In the capital too, students in various colleges are apprehending an increase in their monthly mess charges.
“The mess manager has already dropped hints about raising meal charges. Sooner or later, we will have to cough up more,” said Subash Jena, a hostel boarder at BJB College.
The mess manager of Utkal University has also proposed a hike of Rs 4 for a meal, said Puspanjali Panda, superintendent of a ladies hostel at the university. “I will send the proposal to the executive body of the university to take a decision on the matter.”