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Govt Yet to Decide on Raising LPG Cap to 9: Moily

A day after Election Commission rap, Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily today said the government has not yet taken any decision on raising cap on supply of subsidised LPG cylinders and the EC would have been informed before announcing any decision.

"If the proposals had been concertised and it was to be announced or decision was to be taken... I would have definitely written to Election Commission of India," Moily told reporters here.

Moily said the government had consistently maintained that the decision to cap supply of subsidised cooking gas (LPG) to six cylinders per household in a year is under review following widespread demands and he had reiterated the same position in reply to media queries on sidelines of a CII function here yesterday.

"Not that I would like to do anything for political gain behind the back of Election Commission. That is not our intention. We are very clear about it. We are very transparent and objective about it," he said.

Election Commission had taken a strong exception to Moily's statements ahead of the elections in Gujarat, that the cap would be increased to nine cylinders, and sought his explanation.

In his formal response, Moily said: "The Government is yet to take a decision in the matter. As such my response to media queries... Should not be treated as an announcement regarding decision of the government."

"I would like to assure you that due regard to the applicable rules and procedures of the Election Commission of India shall be given as and when a decision in this regard is taken by the government," he wrote.

Talking to reporters, Moily said there have been widespread demands including from about 100 Congress MPs, several chief ministers and union ministers, for revisiting the decision as only six cylinders per household was "not practical and away from reality".

"Concerns had to be addressed today or tomorrow. But at the same time, I am conscious that I would not have done anything without writing to the Election Commission of India," he added.

Moily said consequent on capping the number of cylinders, number of issues came up and concerns have been expressed particularly from the women.

He admitted that consumption of cylinders in urban area was different than the same in rural areas and there were distribution problems in North-East, Jammu & Kashmir and other far flung places.

Also, concerns had been expressed by many chief ministers, Union ministers and even by "our own Congress MPs exceeding 100 who have represented to the Prime Minister that the capping is not proper," he said.

"I cannot say I should shut out my mind, I should shut my heart, shut my ears and I should shut out by voice (on these concerns)," Moily said, adding he had informally talked to one of the Election Commissioners on these concerns.

"I was about to write to them to exclude (poll bound) Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat," he said but did not say what was the response of the Election Commissioner with whom he had discussed the issue.

As per the September 13 decision, every household could avail of six LPG cylinders of 14.2-kg at subsidised rate of Rs 410.50 per bottle. Any requirement beyond will cost the market rate of of Rs 931 per cylinder.

Only 44 per cent of households in the country consume six cylinders in a year, while the majority consume 9-12 bottles.

Yesterday Moily had stated that the decision to raise the cap will be taken by the Cabinet "very shortly" and that he has had two rounds of discussions with Finance Minister P Chidambaram on the impact of the decision to raise the cap.

The government will have to provide an additional Rs 9,000 crore annually if the cap is raised to nine cylinders.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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Dec 12, 2012
02:23 PM

 According to coalguru, "While the Inter Ministerial Group and Coal Ministry are on cancellation spree de allocating the coal blocks awarded to the mining corporations of states like Chhattisgarh, Orrisa and Jharkhand, it chose to ignore the serious facts relating private companies. This exposes the dual standard of the two governing bodies.

Sources reveal that private players who were allotted the coal blocks were being let off by a meager seizure of bank guarantee in the range of 10 crore to 20 crores while the cost of the coal block falls in the price band of INR 400 crore to INR 500 crore each. Such private entities have smartly escaped the de allocation against these seizures. The entities have direct or indirect connection to various political parties due to which no party is willing to fire up the issue."

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