Hyderabad: Dashing the hopes of middle-class families, the Andhra Pradesh government on Tuesday announced that three additional cooking gas cylinders at subsidized rate will be given only to consumers under the 'Deepam' scheme. About 40 lakh families belonging to weaker sections would thus get a total of nine cylinders every year at subsidized rate.
The state government has limited its Dussehra gift only to consumers under 'Deepam' scheme, which was launched in 1999 to distribute cooking gas connections to women in rural areas and below-poverty-line families. The state has a total of 1.6 crore cooking gas connections. Civil Supplies Minister D. Sridhar Babu told reporters that the three additional cylinders for 'Deepam' consumers would put an additional burden of Rs 634 crore on the state exchequer.
He said the government had not yet taken a decision on whether to continue Rs 25 subsidy being given on each cylinder since 2009. The state government is already spending Rs 250 crore per annum towards this subsidy, which was introduced to partially absorb Rs 50 hike. The subsidized cooking gas cylinder in the state is currently priced at Rs 402.
The government's decision has disappointed consumers from middle-class families as they were hoping across-the-board hike in number of subsidized cylinders following a directive from Congress' central leadership to the party-ruled states. Haryana, Maharashtra, Assam and Delhi have already announced three additional cylinders to consumers at subsidised rates.
The central government had last month announced that a consumer would get up to six subsidised cylinders a year. Consumers would have to pay Rs.894 for every additional cylinder. The oil companies have also declared that consumers would get three subsidized cylinders between Sep 13, 2012 and March 31, 2013.