Calangute has become the monopoly of only one Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) agency for the past several years now and this is troubling the consumers in the area.
According to an aggrieved consumer, Mr Gasper Dias, the HP gas agency is taking undue advantage of the situation and making consumers dance to its tunes.
Consumers complain that the dealer asks people to take delivery of their refill LPG cylinder on their own from the godown without giving any kind of rebate. Since the last 2-3 months, the dealer has literally stopped supplying cylinders at the consumers’ doorstep by way of a mobile van. After getting the KYC forms filled, the dealer has been asking everybody to collect their refill cylinders from the depot, complain the consumers.
Mr Dias said that upon inquiring with the dealer, he misguides them by saying, “It is as per a circular that consumers should collect cylinders from the depot or godown.” He further said that when contacted, the sales manager of Hindustan Petroleum, Goa Region, however, informed that there is no such circular issued by them to the dealers. Instead, the sales manager said that the dealers must deliver the refill cylinder at the consumers’ doorstep since the cost is included in the profit margin. Mr Dias also charged that dealers are pocketing the rebate if the consumer collects cylinder either from the godown or depot.
Another consumer from Calangute, Mr Martins, a senior citizen, complained of overcharging by the dealer. According to him, instead of Rs 418, all of a sudden the dealer has started charging Rs 420. “When he issues the bill for Rs 418, he pockets Rs 2 from each consumer on the pretext of ‘no change,’” said Mr Martins. He further said, “It is risky and illegal to carry a cylinder on a scooter or a motorcycle for long distances of 2-3 kilometres and may invite unwanted trouble in case of any road accident.” Also, there is a possibility of gas leakage, he said and hoped that the Civil Supplies Minister takes note of the matter and initiates some corrective measures.
Mr Martins further said that if he hires a taxi or a rickshaw to collect his refill cylinder, he has to additionally pay Rs 200 as the taxi or rickshaw charges for the to-and-fro journey from the depot. Besides, he also finds it difficult to unload the cylinder and take it to his kitchen as he is a heart patient and has undergone an open heart surgery.
Another consumer, Mr Agustin Silva also pointed that one has to stand in long queues as early as 9 am to get the bill done and pay Rs 420 instead of Rs 418 and felt that the dealer should refund Rs 15 plus Rs 2 to each consumer when he collects the refill cylinder from the depot. The Calangute residents have now formed a forum named ‘Calangute Residents and Consumer Forum’ in order to highlight their grievances and expose the LPG dealers’ tricks to collect money by cheating consumers. The convenor of this forum, Ms Eudes D’Souza felt that carrying a refill cylinder in a private vehicle is always a risky affair. As the LPG dealer has compelled all Calangute consumers to personally collect their refill cylinders from depot or godown, it is causing trouble to many senior citizens and women, she said. Ms D’Souza further said that the dealer has stopped home delivery but charges are the same and that he never gives a rebate of Rs 15 when the consumers collect their refill from godown.
Porvorim residents, Mr Bosco Conceicao, Mr Sudhakar S, Ms Audrey Mendes and Mr Babaji Rao from the P&T colony also have the same story to tell and want authorities to intervene and sort out the nagging problems of LPG consumers.
Meanwhile, the Calangute Residents and Consumer Forum has petitioned the Deputy Collector and SDM Bardez, Mr Sabaji Shetye, to intervene so as to provide relief to hundreds of consumers who have not received their LPG cylinder refills.
At the monthly meeting of the consumer forum, a large number of consumers who attended the meeting highlighted the hardships faced by them with regard to the non-delivery of LPG cylinders.
The forum said that they had also received numerous complaints via telephone as well as a written representation from the senior citizens of Calangute about the non-delivery of LPG cylinder refills, although the booking had been done as per the procedure laid down by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) and the Petroleum Ministry, government of India.
It may be noted that the entire Calangute village is dependent on M/s Teli Gas Service for delivery against booking and all other related services to the LPG consumers. Moreover, this HP gas agency is entrusted to service the domestic as well as the commercial consumers in the jurisdiction of the village panchayat of Calangute and surrounding areas.
It may be noted that Calangute being a tourist destination has many hotels, restaurants and food outlets catering to the domestic and foreign tourists, which are also in need of LPG supplies. There are over 5,000 pending deliveries purely due to the incapability of this one single dealer to handle the deliveries.
Although this matter has been taken up with the HP company officials, no relief is in sight and housewives and senior citizens are the most affected and the fear and tension may result in a law and order situation.
Copies of the letter have been sent to the Collector and chairperson of North Goa District Consumer Protection Council, the mamlatdar of Bardez, assistant director of Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, SDPO Mapusa, police inspector of Calangute and GOACAN. [NT]