New Delhi, Sept 24: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-led UPA government faced another threat as LPG gas cylinder distributors are likely to hold nationwide strike on Monday, Oct 1.
The distributors are reported to have decided to begin the strike protesting against restriction on sale of subsidised cylinders. Around 1,200 dealers along with member-associations are expected to attend a meeting organised by National Federation of LPG Distributors of India on Tuesday, Sept 25.
A popular daily quoted the General Secretary of the federation, Pawan Soni as saying, "With the government's latest decision on LPG cylinders, both consumers and distributors are suffering. Without consulting us, wrong policies are being adopted that will create a black market and promote unfair trade practices."
According to Mr Soni, distributors have been facing problems with the present infrastructure and not with government's authority to take such a decision on capping subsidised cylinders.
However, clarifying his stand on the issue, Mr Soni said, "It is a policy decision of the government with which we have no fight. We have no issues with the government charging market price for all cylinders. Giving of subsidy is a government prerogative."
One of the demands raised by LPG cylinder distributors is the revision of the commission of Rs 25.83 a cylinder that oil marketing companies give them. The revision was made for the last time in 2010.
Informing about current situations of the distributors, Mr Soni added, "We have about 200,000 delivery men in the country that get just Rs 8 a cylinder."
The UPA government earlier had decided to allow consumers of domestic LPG to refill their cylinders only six times per annum at a subsidised rate. However, later sources informed the government may increase the number following massive protest by opposition parties, especially by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who asked to raise the cap from 6 to 12 per annum. Though Congress had decided to supply nine subsidised LPG cylinders in states ruled by it.
A subsidised cylinder is available for around Rs 400 but the prevailing market price of a LPG refill is over Rs 700. The price varies in different cities and states.