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A cylinder for a rupee plea

New Delhi, Feb. 24: The Supreme Court will on Monday examine a PIL seeking distribution of LPG to the common man at less than Re 1 per cylinder, on a par with the rate at which it is being supplied to industrial houses.

In other words, the petitioner wants 12 cylinders, the average consumption of a four-member family, for Rs 12. The PIL filed by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma alleged the Centre’s claim that it was paying Rs 30,000 crore as subsidies to oil companies was a “fraud” as benefits of such subsidies did not trickle down to the public.

The petition said if LPG/LNG/natural gas could be supplied to industrial houses at the rate of Rs 7,500 per thousand cubic metre, the same rate should be applicable for domestic consumption.

In that case, the price of 1 litre of LPG would be Re 0.0075 per litre or Rs 7.5 per cubic metre (1 cubic metre is 1,000 litres). In terms of cylinders, the price would not go beyond 75 paise for an 18-litre (14.2kg) cylinder for domestic consumption, the petition said.

The petition said going by the records of the oil and natural gas ministry, in the past five years, the country has lost over Rs 4.16 lakh crore on account of siphoning, loss, wastage and misuse of LPG. The petitioner has sought a CBI probe into the alleged loss and a transparent gas allocation and supply policy.

Sharma said as natural resources are public property or national assets, while distributing it, the state is bound to act in consonance with the principles of equality and ensure that no action is taken which may be detrimental to public interest.

“Like any other state action, constitutionalism must be reflected at every stage of the distribution of natural resources. It is a serious exploitation and fraud upon citizen of India. It is pertinent to say that via declaration ministry has imposed price and policy.

“As per detail published by the ministry of petroleum..., ministry has been supplying natural gas to the various industrialists @ Rs 7,500per thousand cubic meter/Rs 0.0075 per litre since May 2010,” the petition said.

On September 12, the Centre had announced its decision to provide only six subsidised cylinders to each household on the ground that it had to pay Rs 30,000 crore as subsidy on LPG annually. The limit was later revised to nine.

According to the decision, each household will get subsidised cylinders at the price of Rs 410.42. For requirements above the quota, Rs 895.50 would have to be paid for each cylinder.

“That respondent has declared repeatedly that they are paying more than Rs 30,000 crore subsidy in LPG account is totally false and fraudulent,” the petition said.