Those giving up LPG subsidy can apply after 1 year: Minister

Those who voluntarily give up the LPG cylinder subsidy under the government’s Give It Up scheme can ask for it after a year, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Friday.

He also said his Ministry had not used the data from income tax returns to cut subsidy for people earning over Rs. 10 lakh a year. “Give It Up is for one year. You do not need to apply to give it up again, you will still be considered as having given it up. But, after a year, the person can re-apply for the subsidy if he wishes,” Mr. Pradhan told reporters here.

“The usual understanding is that once you have given it up, you can’t get it back,” said K. Ravichandran, senior vice-president, Corporate Sector Rating, ICRA, told The Hindu.

“This will dilute the effect of Give It Up.”

The government must make clear at what LPG price point it is willing to reconsider giving back the subsidy to those who gave it up, he said.

The Minister announced that so far 1.13 crore people had given up the LPG subsidy and around 50 per cent of them were from Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.

“We do not have access to income tax data. We are asking people earning above Rs. 10 lakh to come forward and sign affidavits and give up their subsidy,” Mr. Pradhan said, adding that more than one crore people had given up their LPG subsidy.

SMS request

Earlier, Ministry officials had said they had accessed data from the Income Tax Department to identify three lakh people earning more than Rs. 10 lakh a year and had sent them SMSs saying they were no longer eligible for the LPG subsidy.

“We gave a message for voluntary declaration of income of more than Rs. 10 lakh a year,” Ashutosh Jindal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, told The Hindu in March. “In the meantime, we were able to identify around three lakh people with an income of more than Rs.10 lakh. The Income Tax Department did this for us. So, we sent them SMSs that we have identified them and their subsidy will be removed,” Mr. Jindal had said.

The SMSs urged consumers to give affidavits in case they were earning less than Rs. 10 lakh a year. Mr. Pradhan later confirmed this to a national business daily, saying income tax data were being examined in affluent areas.

Mr. Pradhan also said the government had created 60 lakh new LPG connections in BPL households using the savings from the Give It Up programme.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi would launch Ujjwala Yojana on May 1, under which free LPG connections would be provided to women from BPL households, Mr. Pradhan said. “Under the scheme, Rs. 8,000 crore has been earmarked for providing five crore LPG connections to BPL households,” he said. In the first year, 1.5 crore connections would be provided.

India imports 40 per cent of its 21 million tonne LPG requirement, which the Minister said would rise sharply following the provision of new connections.


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