New Delhi: Government has set an ambitious target of opening 10,000 new LPG dealerships in 2016 on top of around 16,000 existing dealers in the country.
On January 1, Pradhan announced 2016 as the 'Year of LPG Consumers' and this is yet another step in the direction of making clean cooking fuel available to entire population of the country by 2018 particularly in rural areas.
"We have set a target of opening 10,000 new LPG retail dealers in 2016," Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told reporters here today.
The minister was addressing a press conference on the fourth India-Africa Hydrocarbons Conference to be held on January 21-22.
"Oil marketing companies have done the basic spadework. We are getting suggestions from MPs and states about locations where LPG retail dealerships can be opened," Pradhan said.
Earlier, the minister had also talked about rolling out online bill payment facility (in 2016) and transparent gas cylinders (during 2016-17).
At present there are 27 crore LPG subscribers in the country, of which 16.5 crore are active subscribers. Oil marketing companies cover about 60 percent of the population.
About the planned Direct Benefit Transfer scheme for kerosene in 33 districts across seven states from April 1, he said, "We will soon call a meeting of the states and give a detailed presentation. I hope that there could be more states who can join this pilot."
On promoting use of clean fuel Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for vehicles, he said that he will talk to Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to adjust value added tax so that CNG prices remain uniform in the NCR region.
He also talked about opening of 104 CNG retail outlets by oil marketing companies in addition to existing 350 CNG filling stations in next three months.
About bio-fuel blending with fossil fuels, he said that the oil marketing companies will procure 120 crore litres of ethanol which is 5 percent of country's petrol consumption.
Talking about the 4th India-Africa Hydrocarbons Conference, the minister said as many as 17 countries have confirmed their participation and of these 10 countries are sending ministerial-level officials to the conference.
He said that during the conference there will be talks between governments, businesses and regulators.
The minister said that Africa is the hot-spot for investments in oil and gas sector and country's oil imports from Nigeria will increase in future.
During 2014-15, India imported 32 million tonnes of crude oil from African nations including 2.2 million tonnes from Nigeria. India imports about 189 million tonnes of crude oil annually.