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Bharti Airtel agreed to return the subsidy amount of Rs 190 crore (along with interest) to the consumers’ original bank accounts that were linked to the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) on Monday after state-run Hindustan Petroleum Corporation wrote to the telecom operator acting the complaints of consumers complained who were not receiving the money.
In a letter to Airtel Payments Bank, HPCL said oil marketing companies and the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas have received a large number of complaints from consumers through channels including social media, print media and VIP references on non-credit of the subsidy in the bank accounts where they were previously receiving it.
In many instances, the three staterun oil marketing companies — HPCL, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Indian Oil Corporation — had found that the Aadhaar-linked account number of their LPG consumers was changed in the National Payments Corporation of India records to Airtel Payments Bank.
Therefore, the LPG subsidy was getting credited into the Airtel accounts. “In order to link LPG subsidy to earlier bank accounts, HPCL has written to Airtel Bank and requested that the subsidy amounts of these consumers be immediately either transferred back to the customer’s earlier bank account or to the respective OMCs,” a statement from HPCL said.
A BPCL spokesperson said HPCL has written the letter on behalf of the three OMCs. “As per government rules, direct benefit transfer (DBT) subsidy goes to the latest Aadhaar-linked bank account. Customers can withdraw this at any of our designated outlets. No charges for such withdrawals are levied,” an Airtel Payments Bank spokesperson said.
“Having said that, given that some customers have experienced inconvenience of not being aware of which bank account the DBT has gone to, we are fully committed to resolving this immediately. We are in the process of taking appropriate steps in respect of the same.”
In a report citing unnamed sources, news agency PTI said Airtel has written to National Payments Corporation promising to return the subsidy amount totalling Rs 190 crore (along with interest) to the original bank accounts linked for the receipt of Direct Benefit Transfer.
Airtel and its payments bank have been under the scanner after Airtel allegedly opened accounts of its mobile phone subscribers without their consent, and the LPG subsidy got transferred to those accounts. More than Rs 167 crore in LPG subsidy from 37.21 lakh consumers had thus far been deposited in Airtel Payments Bank accounts.
Following this, the national biometric ID issuing authority, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), temporarily barred Airtel from using Aadhaar to authenticate mobile phone connections and opening new payments bank accounts.
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