Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to put on hold the proposed second phase roll-out of the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) for LPG scheme.

Such a scheme would amount to replacing a subsidy on the supply of an essential commodity with a cash transfer, which the Tamil Nadu Government strongly opposes, she said in a letter to the Prime Minister.

Based on her earlier objection, the Union Planning Commission had excluded Ariyalur, Pudukkottai and Tiruchi districts in the State from the first phase. However, the Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas on September 7 informed her that the second phase of the DBT for LPG scheme is proposed to be implemented in 235 districts, including 25 in Tamil Nadu, from January 1.

“I would like to place on record my strong opposition to the proposed roll out of DBT for LPG,” she said. LPG is an essential commodity that has to be made available to users in a timely and need-based manner. Replacing the subsidy with a direct cash transfer is not appropriate, she said.

The Petroleum Ministry also plans to link the DBT for LPG scheme with the Aadhaar number of LPG customers. “This is a proposal fraught with a number of practical difficulties,” she said.

The pace of assigning Aadhaar number is slow in all States, including Tamil Nadu. As against 6.74 crore eligible persons in the State, only 2.52 crore persons have received the number. Linking DBT for LPG scheme to the Aadhaar number without preparing the system adequately will only lead to confusion and public inconvenience, she said.

In a federal structure where States are in close and direct contact with the people, the choice of designing and implementing welfare schemes is best left to the States. If the intention of the Centre is to ensure efficient delivery, then it should consult the States before launching any scheme.

“I strongly urge you to have a complete rethink on the proposed DBT for LPG and pending such a rethink, put on hold the proposed phase II roll out,” she said.

raja.simhan@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 30, 2013)
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