Ujjwala Irregularities in J&K: IOC Continues To Evade Accountability

Representational Photo   

Srinagar- The Indian Oil Corporation continues to maintain silence over alleged irregularities in the implementation of the Prime Minister’s Ujjwala Gas Yojana scheme despite directions from the administration.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration on November 11, issued orders to the corporation to furnish a reply to the LG’s Grievance Cell regarding a complaint on alleged scam in disbursing benefits of the scheme.

In the order, a copy of which lies with Kashmir Observer, the administration has ordered the IOC’s state level coordinator to furnish a reply “at the earliest” as the “subject of the grievance entirely pertains to you [State level coordinator]”.

However, even after the lapse of two weeks after the administration’s order, the corporation is yet to issue a response.

The central scheme is an initiative to provide free gas connections to one crore poor families across India.

The complaint was filed by local transparency activist Raja Muzaffar Bhat, who raised alarm over an ongoing “scam” in the central scheme’s implementation in Kashmir.

Many Ujjwala beneficiaries who had not physically received any connection were surprised with credit entries in their names. Similar reports then emerged from other areas as well as from public representatives that many of their SECC Ujjwala beneficiaries may be receiving LPG subsidy in their accounts but had not received any free connection, including cylinders and stoves.

The order also comes two months after Kashmir Observer highlighted the issue in its weekly Inkishaf program “Is Ujjwala Yojana a Scam?”, highlighting the public’s complaints of corruption and denial of free cooking gas.

On November 22 the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs in Budgam had issued an order and constituted a team of four members and demanded that the team submit a “factual report” to the department in seven days.

The department had constituted a four-member team – including TSO Beerwah and Chrar Shareef, ASK and concerned sarpanch – to look into the complaints by conducting door to door surveys at village Googi Pathri Wangwas.

Muzaffar said the alleged fraudulent entries could be to siphon off subsidies meant for the poor public.

“Gas refills keep on getting booked against the Ujjawala connections and these domestic gas cylinders go to the black market and most commonly are diverted for commercial use in hotels/restaurants/shops/dhabas /factories/ heating purposes etc,” he said.

Muzaffar added that any fraud in disbursing the subsidies would cause “heavy losses” to the state exchequer. “The huge cost difference between domestic and commercial LPG cylinders is a natural lure for its mass diversion,” he said.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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