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The LPG connection portability scheme — launched by the ministry of petroleum in October 2013 in 24 districts covering 13 states on the lines of number portability in telecom sector — does not  have many takers.  

According ministry officials, portability was availed by only a “few hundred customers or probably close to a thousand customers” till now.  The scheme was first launched in Chandigarh in early 2013. “We are happy that the number of consumers who availed the scheme is very low. This shows that the efficiency level of companies and dealers are increased,” said a senior ministry official.

Recently, the scheme was launched on a full-fledged all-India basis by expanding its coverage to over 480 districts and a population of over 82 million LPG consumers across the country. In order to facilitate LPG consumers to benefit from the portability scheme, oil marketing companies (OMCs) have more than 1,400 clusters of distributors in over 480 districts, with an average of almost four distributors per cluster, to choose from.

“The customer would be the king now. We are getting a lot of queries in this regard, especially after the national launch. This would make dealers more disciplined in their service,” says Parminder Singh of Rupinder Gas Agency, Chandigarh.

According to Singh, facilities such as ‘no transfer fee applicable’ to this would make it more attractive to customers. On the other hand, in case of intra-company portability request, the LPG consumer has to visit only the new distributor. A ministry official said, “For applications, till now, in most cases, dealers were able to hold back those who had applied for portability. The ministry is happy with this development and hence, we had gone for a national launch. The success of this scheme lies in conferring the power with the consumer to be able to change the distributor and the oil company, which forces the distributor and oil company to perform, and not in a large number of portability requests.”

Apart from the cluster approach, pro-active electronic tracking of portability request is also in place to ensure consumers do not face any difficulty in moving to a distributor of their choice.