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LPG delivery men go the extra mile to keep kitchens running

Twesh Mishra New Delhi | Updated on April 16, 2020 Published on April 16, 2020

LPG gas cylinders   -  THE HINDU

Seek pay in tandem with increased demand

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG, or cooking gas) cylinder delivery personnel are going the extra mile to keep kitchens running across the country. These men are the foot soldiers who ensure doorstep delivery of LPG cylinders as India enters the second half of its 40-day lockdown.

“There is a spurt in demand and so we do almost twice the number of trips in a day since the lockdown was announced,” Pradeep Kumar, an LPG delivery man at an Indane Gas agency in Noida, told BusinessLine.

“Now, though, the demand has considerably eased in my area. We keep the cylinders at the society gates or barricaded points to maintain social distancing,” he added.

There were some initial concerns about delivery delays. To regulate demand, oil marketing companies (OMCs) barred consumers from booking for refills within 15 days of previous purchase. The demand has now eased from urban centres.

The current focus of OMCs is to deliver the free cylinders offered to Ujjwala consumers under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.

OMCs boost operations

“While the initial demand for refills from Ujjwala consumers was not much, with three free refills being offered now, the demand may go up. To meet this, distributors are boosting their manpower and delivery infrastructure,” said Pawan Kumar, Regional LPG Manager - North, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL).

“The first priority for us is to ensure that the delivery personnel do not become carriers of the disease. We are providing them with safety kits which include masks, sanitisers and gloves. The cylinders are sanitised at the bottling plant itself. At the distributor end, these cylinders are treated with a solution of sodium hypochlorite,” Kumar said.

BPCL has around 78 lakh Ujjwala consumers.

“Bottling plants that were running in two shifts are now operating round the clock to meet the demand for 78 lakh additional LPG cylinder refills. The delivery staff has been trained to maintain social distancing. The personnel at the bottling plants undergo thermal scanning before they enter the premises. They are then sanitised and dressed in boiler suits,” Kumar said.

Call for clarity on pay

The entire LPG delivery infrastructure of the country is primed to meet this spurt in demand for cooking gas. But LPG delivery men say they need greater clarity on how they will be remunerated for their additional efforts. Most delivery personnel BusinessLine spoke to did not know how their wages are being calculated.

“The cost of each cylinder to the consumer has a distributor margin of ₹61. This is inclusive of delivery charges that are around ₹28 per cylinder. It is the prerogative of the distributors to ensure that delivery boys are remunerated. The company officials also routinely undertake checks to see that delivery personnel are paid appropriately,” Kumar said.

OMC officials said LPG delivery men are on the rolls of distributors; most are paid a lump-sum amount and not on the basis of number of cylinders delivered.

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Published on April 16, 2020
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