On a day President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent to a Bill making capital punishment possible for rape convicts, Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily, too, decided to do something positive.
He asked the oil marketing companies to prepare a proposal within a fortnight to offer LPG distributorships to victims of “heinous crimes”.
The death of a 23-year-old paramedical student after being gang-raped in Delhi last December had moved the entire nation and led to widespread demonstrations.
Soon after, in Budget 2013-14, the United Progressive Alliance government earmarked Rs 1,000-crore Nirbhaya Fund for women’s safety, but it is yet to decide on how to use it.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram also mooted a women’s public-sector bank.
Moily’s idea, however, seems to widen the scope of the government’s largesse for sufferers by covering not just the victims of rape but those of all “heinous” crimes.
Besides, another proposal on quota for widows of terror victims was also discussed.
A senior official from the petroleum & natural gas ministry told Business Standard the suggestion on heinous crime came up during a crucial meeting chaired by the minister on lifting the ban on LPG dealership rights.
“The minister categorically asked oil marketing companies to come up with a proposal in this regard, within a week or two,” he added.
When asked, Petroleum Secretary Vivek Rae did not confirm there was a proposal on victims of heinous crimes, but said reservation for widows of terror victims was being considered.
The UPA government had earlier been criticised by many for its soft stand on terror strikes.
At present, government-controlled oil marketing firms - Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum - cannot grant dealership rights.
After Moily became the minister, the government asked these companies to put on hold the grant of dealerships when these companies came out with advertisements a few months back.
The meeting was part of the exercise to form new marketing guidelines and review OMCs’ demand to increase their distributorship network by 7,000, from around 12,343 currently.
At present, there is an eight per cent quota for former defence personnel and employees of central and state public-sector undertakings.