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Aadhaar gain: pay more for LPG

The Aadhaar early bird catches the Rs 44 worm per gas cylinder, thanks to value-added tax (VAT).

Ranchi citizens who linked Aadhaar cards to LPG direct benefit transfer scheme before this January when the Centre suspended the subsidy transfer to bank accounts, are facing a unique problem.

Consumers getting cooking gas subsidy in Aadhaar-linked bank accounts pay Rs 44 extra as they get VAT at two places — their respective oil company (Indane, HP Gas or Bharat) and distributor/agency.

His counterpart who gets his cylinder directly from the agency pays VAT only once.

In his Monday budget speech, finance minister P. Chidambaram may have said direct benefit transfer scheme for paying subsidies to LPG beneficiaries was a great idea, but last month, the Union cabinet was forced to concede it was not yet prepared to implement this “game-changer” due to anomalies like these.

Forced by consumer complaints, the Centre put on hold the transfer of LPG subsidy to Aadhaar-linked bank accounts and set up a committee to analyse the scheme.

But those who have opted for the LPG direct cash benefit linked with Aadhaar, like Ranchi-based bank executive Rajesh Sinha, are in a quandary.

“I use the direct cash benefit linked with Aadhaar and get an LPG refill for Rs 486. My friend who doesn’t, gets a cylinder for Rs 442,” Sinha said.

Iswhari Chand Gupta, a retired account general office employee, supported Sinha.

“Rs 44 extra for each cylinder seems to be the Aadhaar benefit,” he said sarcastically.

Jharkhand LPG Dealers’ Association general-secretary Ravi Bhatta, one of the 17 distributors in the district, put it down to five per cent VAT. “When Aadhar-linked LPG consumers ask why they pay Rs 44 extra, I tell them about the five per cent VAT levied by the state at two places. Many get angry, many understand,” he said.