A year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a call to the well-heeled to give up their cooking gas subsidy, the campaign seems to have worked.
The number of consumers who have responded to the "Giveitup" campaign has touched a 8.22 million, helping the government save Rs 4,166 crore.
Each of these 8.2 million families has surrendered an annual LPG subsidy worth Rs 5,000. For the government, the savings are around Rs 4,166 crore - a tenth of the allocation for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
The initiative asking consumers to give up their LPG subsidy had been on since 2012, but the movement gathered pace in the past year due to a massive outreach programme run by the petroleum ministry.
Indane, the cooking gas service of the nation's largest fuel retailer Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), alone accounts for 35 per cent or Rs 1,488 crore of the total savings accrued to the three state-owned oil companies.
Bharat Petroleum Corporation's Bharat Gas clocked savings of 1,340 crore while Hindustan Petroleum Corporation's HP Gas accounted for the rest of the savings of Rs 1,337 crore. Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday the response from LPG consumers and by March 3 over 8 million had voluntarily surrendered their subsidy.
"More than 5.3 million consumers have surrendered their subsidy on LPG in the last six months," Pradhan said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha. The number grew from 2,500 in August 2014 to 12,471 in December that year. Over the next six months, the number grew over 60 times to 764,266, according to the oil ministry.
"More than 280,000 people have given up LPG subsidies, leading to savings of over Rs 100 crore in the past 10 months," Modi had said in his speech at the Urja Sangam on March 27, 2015. Since then, the number of people joining the campaign has almost tripled.
Among the first to respond to the government's call were employees of the three state-owned oil companies. In July 2014, Pradhan had congratulated 100 employees of these companies for "demonstrating commitment to nation building and joining the cause of providing affordable eco-friendly fuel to every household in the country".
Government owned oil companies lost Rs 36,500 crore in 2014-15 on subsidised LPG sales to over 150 million consumers. Each consumer is entitled to 12 subsidised cylinders a year. Any requirement above this is at market price.
Consumers can opt out of the subsidy by submitting written request to the distributor or electronically at mylpg.in.