Govt to appoint 10,000 new LPG distributors this year
The 10,000 new liquified petroleum gas (LPG) dealerships will be on top of around 16,000 existing dealers in the country. “We had declared 2016 as the Year of LPG Consumers and this is yet another step in the direction of making clean cooking fuel available to the entire population of the country by 2018, particularly in rural areas,” Pradhan told reporters here.
About 2,000 agencies are already in the process of being appointed and the remaining would be completed in two phases, he said. At present, there are 27 crore LPG subscribers in the country, of which 16.7 crore are active. This covers nearly 60 per cent of the population.
“We plan to give out 5 crore LPG connections to rural women households under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana in three years. Another 3 crore connections are anticipated to be given,” he said. The LPG distributorships would be given in four categories - urban, semi-urban, rural and far-flung.
Eligibility norms for age, education, fund requirement and ownership of land for godwons and showroom have been relaxed to make selection process more participative, he said, adding that distributors for the urban area would be decided through a computerised draw of lots. For all other categories, it would be through manual lottery, he said. Also, 33 per cent reservation to women across all categories has been introduced to encourage women entrepreneurship. Another 3 per cent reservation has been provided for physically handicapped.
Defence personnel and their dependents as also sports personnel would be given preference.
“The new appointment guidelines will pave the way for a more broadbased, participative and transparent system of selection of distributors across the country,” he said.
No bid to ‘palm off’ GSPC’s failed gas fields to ONGC: Pradhan
Rejecting Congress’ charge of an attempt being made to “palm off” GSPC’s failed gas fields to ONGC, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Friday said his “best wishes” are with the two firms if they are able to strike a commercial deal keeping their interest in mind. State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has been offered a stake in Gujarat State Petroleum Corp’s (GSPC) Krishna Godavari basin block in an attempt to the Gujarat government firm’s Rs 19,500 crore loan from turning into an NPA. “I can only tell (Congress leader) Jairam Ramesh that exploration and production activities should not be seen in isolation,” he told reporters here. “If they (UPA Government) had provided marketing freedom as guaranteed under the PSC, GSPC could have produced gas by now.”
The UPA government had fixed a cap on price of natural gas in contravention of the signed production sharing contract (PSC), which made developing the gas from the difficult field difficult. Pradhan said company-to-company discussions were taking place on a possible collaboration between ONGC and GSPC. “These are commercial discussions and my best wishes are with the two companies.” “If they are able to reach a commercial understanding, keeping their profitability in mind, we must not have any problem,” he said.