BANGALORE: Bangalore is set to be the first city in the state to become kerosene-free in the next three months. The food and civil supplies department has issued public circulars asking kerosene users to shift to LPG connections claiming gas connections are easily available now.
MC Gangadhar, deputy director (procurement and distribution ), department of food, civil supplies and consumer affairs, told TOI that they have laid out plans to make Bangalore kerosene-free in three months. “As a first step, we are encouraging consumers of kerosene to shift to LPG connections. We have also decided to restrict the supply of kerosene to three litres (per month) for families with one or two members . Earlier, all kerosene-using families, irrespective of the number of members, used to get five litres per month. Families with more than two members will continue to get five litres of kerosene per month,” he added.
Department officials said the idea behind phasing out the fuel is to reduce health risks of customers who are using it, in addition to achieving reduction in pollution levels . Many kerosene users still use firewood, which in turn encourages tree cutting, said a senior official.
For the record, Bangalore has around five lakh kerosene customers and department officials agree there are irregularities here as well. “There are many people who buy kerosene despite having LPG connection. We have asked oil companies to strictly monitor such fraudulent connections and update the department on the same,” he added.
Another official said in the next few weeks, the department will carry out an awareness drive asking kerosene customers to shift to LPG. The official added, “After two months, we plan to cut kerosene supply and people will have no choice but to shift to LPG or electricity-based usage as a fuel for household activities.”
When questioned whether the department was offering any incentive for kerosene users to shift to LPG, the official said they have no such plans. The LPG comes with subsidy and public should understand the importance of shifting towards less polluting fuels, he added.
The state government’s move to phase out kerosene may be the right move, looking at the health and safety hazards. But it may not be a practicable move, considering it still remains the poor man’s fuel. Also, getting an LPG connection is not as easy as the civil supplies department claims. Pilferage of kerosene and a thriving oil mafia are the result of a weak public distribution system. Fix the system, but don’t halt the delivery of essentials. The least the government can do is to ensure a smooth transition and cheaper LPG for the poor.