LPG price increase shocks consumers

A domestic cylinder now costs ₹785, while the subsidy component remains ₹24.9

Cooking gas customers on Monday were shocked to see the sudden increase in the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders.

In Chennai, the price of a non-subsidised domestic cylinder shot up from ₹735 to ₹785. The subsidy component remained ₹24.9 a cylinder. This is the second increase in LPG price this month. It was ₹735 for a domestic cylinder in the beginning of the month when it went up from last month’s price of ₹710.

Ramakrishnan Ganeshh of Mylapore said that this hike was a burden on consumers. “In the last three-and-a-half months, it has gone up by ₹175 a cylinder and the increase has happened twice in the same month. There are homes that have stopped buying even essential medicines meant for diabetes and blood pressure and begun depending completely on rice issued by the public distribution system,” he said.

“These people have stopped subscribing for cable TV, switched over to consuming water from taps instead of buying water cans and stopped newspapers just to manage within their reduced income or no income due to job losses amidst the pandemic,” he said.

An oil industry observer said that LPG price is fixed based on international prices and accordingly, it should have gone up by ₹90 a cylinder in the beginning of the month itself. “However, they did not want to effect the full hike since Parliament was in session and they did not want to attract attention to it,” he said.

A distributor said that bookings had been down this month. “When a cylinder was priced ₹800 the last time, the subsidy component was ₹340 per refill. However, now it is only ₹25, which is a dismal amount,” he said.

J. Jayakumar, general secretary, Tamil Nadu Progressive Consumer Centre, said the oil companies should step in to help the consumers at such a point of time.

“They are their customers after all. The government says the price is fixed by the public sector undertakings. In such a case, the companies should come forward and bear at least a portion of the hike to give some relief to consumers,” Mr. Jayakumar added.

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