Modi begs India's non-poor to shun subsidised LPG

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today that India should try to cut oil imports by 10 per cent before 2022. India imports about 80 per cent of its daily crude oil requirements, putting a huge weight on the country's import bill – particularly as most of this fuel is sold at subsidised rates.

Addressing an energy summit in New Delhi, Modi also appealed to the better-off population to give up subsidised cooking gas – a tall request which is hardly likely to get more than a snigger in a country where the government itself is considered the most corrupt and wasteful entity.

Sharing oil companies' plans to bring piped cooking gas connections to one crore households from the current 27 lakh in the next four years, Modi said a decision to surrender LPG subsidy by 2.8 lakh consumers would result in a savings of Rs100 crore.

''I had made a small mention about giving up LPG subsidy. As many as 2.80 lakh people have responded positively ... this will lead to a saving of at least Rs100 crore. This Rs100 crore can be utilised for the welfare of poor,'' Modi said while speaking at the 'Urja Sangam' meet.

Since the government started the new scheme of direct benefit transfer (DBT) for cooking gas, several persons have opted out of the subsidy scheme, he claimed.

Modi said that 12 crore bank accounts opened under the Jan Dhan scheme are being used for transferring subsidies directly to the consumers which has helped in plugging the leakages and effectively fighting corruption.

''To fight corruption, if institutional mechanism, transparent mechanism, policy driven system can be put in place then we can prevent leakages. And this has been proved by cash transfer,'' the Prime Minister said.

Referring to India's 77 per cent dependence on energy imports, Modi said the effort should be to reduce it by 10 per cent by 2022, when India will celebrate 75 years of Independence.

''We can reduce this import by at least 10 per cent in 2022. This 10 per cent we will produce ourselves and this should be our dream.

''If we become successful in reducing import by 10 per cent in 2022, by achieving 10 per cent growth in domestic production, then I can assure you that by 2030 we can reduce this import to 50 per cent,'' he added.

Modi said the country needs to increase domestic output of energy to reduce dependence on imports.

''Our target has to be higher, only then we can reduce the import...for that we have to make effort,'' he said, adding that the domestic energy companies should aim to become multinationals.

Most of the public and private companies are operating within the country and they need to look out and tap the energy market which is global, the Prime Minister said.

''These days energy diplomacy is a new area. In global relations energy diplomacy has become a requirement. The more our companies become multinational, the more we can increase our reach and space in this sector,'' he added.

He also underlined the need to strengthen institutional mechanism to deal with the future problems of the energy sector.

Modi said he hoped that the country's young population and the government's focus on skill development would help in dealing with the challenges in the energy sector.

Observing that 12 crore bank accounts under the Jan Dhan scheme were opened in 100 days, he said that this ''Jan Dhan has become Jan Shakti'' with the government transferring subsidy directly into these accounts.

Recalling initiatives taken by the government in the energy sector, he said diesel prices have been deregulated and 5-kg cylinder was launched for the benefit of poor as well as the students.

The government, Modi said, was also encouraging blending of ethanol with petrol as it would some relief to the sugar sector which is facing a glut.

The farmers, he added, would be encouraged to use barren land to grow jethropha, which is used in manufacturing biodiesel.