Yesterday, 27th of June 2009 was a D-day of sorts! I brought home a cylinder full of cooking gas! I owe this achievement to my sister Latha who had preserved the cylinder, the regulator my parents had used and also the paper work and to Raji for the advice to 'forget changing' the user's name and address! I am sure Vijay and many more who were very patient to hear about my failed efforts to get a gas cylinder would be both happy and also very relieved!
I was then astounded to see this news item in Deccan Herald today. It said, 'Soon gas cylinder an SMS away'. The news was filed in by a correspondent from Panaji and my immediate reaction was let us move to Goa! Then I saw it was all about vision 2015 plan dreamt by our cabinet minister Murali Deora. There was talk of reaching the rural consumers, use of biometric smart cards to stop leakages(!) and also about the huge govt. subsidy of some 48,300 crore of rupees for the LPG and Kerosene users. There was also a mystifying statement (to me!) about under recovery of 103,292 crores on the sale of petroleum products.
While I wished that 'Hon minister Deora's dreams may come true!', I thought it is a good time to blog on the trauma I underwent trying to register and receive a cylinder with 16.2 kg of cooking gas and install it our kitchen.
Since my move to Bangkok I had forgotten all about the excitement of getting a gas cylinder delivered home and the sense achievement a new home builder experiences on getting a gas connection. In Bangkok our maid Kuhn Nari would walk down to inform the handy man of the apartment and he would immediately replace the empty cylinder with a full one and that was that!
The first time I had a gas connection in Pune, I remember the advice the dealer gave, not only about the safety aspects, but also of the need to keep the paperwork safe. I was given a consumer number and all I had to do was to call them when I needed a cylinder delivered. In my case the dealer was nearby and I went personally and register. As you can guess, the cylinder never came on time. But those days we could go and collect a cylinder from the depot.(Not permitted now!) We then got smarter and booked for an additional cylinder, which we got after a couple of reminders and we were all set for a blissful wedded life with breakfast, lunch and dinner guaranteed!
With all the hype about how easy things were in India now, I assumed that all I had to do was to go and register and thus ensure a steady supply of gas. I spoke to Latha about my plans and she said that she had saved the regulator for me and got the cylinder back from another cousin and I guessed that I was all set and I guessed wrong.
When I approached the dealer in April 2009, the receptionist told me to do the following: make an affidavit on a stamp paper proving my relationship to my parents, attach their death certificates and a no objection letter by my sisters. The affidavit had to be duly signed by me in front of a magistrate or a notary public. And as I did not have the first original receipt given by the company, I had to make another affidavit indemnifying them from something or other on a 15 rupees stamp paper (not available any more, but a 20 rupees one would work!). I also needed as a proof of my residence, only through a ration card and none other. (By the way no rations would be issued, which again is on a subsidy!)
Taking Raji's cue, I went to the dealer and spoke to the receptionist again and said that we needed supply to be started again as we had returned from an other place! Luckily for me the manager saw me and spoke to me this time and things went smoothly after this. I just had to write a letter on behalf of my father asking the dealer to reactivate the account as we had returned and I got my cylinder the next day! ( Always go to the decision maker!)
This is not all, I must also coordinate with the watchman and the tenant of the apartment where my parents lived to continue this system. I also learn that we are allowed only one cylinder per month and we must book only after 20 days from the date of receiving a cylinder. They keep track of issues made very well, so it better be 20 plus days before one books for the next cylinder! The reason being that many misuse these cylinders by using them to run their cars on gas meant for cooking.