Shortage of LPG takes gas out of festivals

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With Easter and Vishu festivities round the corner, the supply of Indane liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to the five districts of Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Idukki and Alappuzha in central Kerala is going from bad to worse.

The latest crisis erupted in the wake of a cut in bulk LPG supply from IOC’s Mangalore terminal as well as from the Kochi Refinery Limited (KRL), from last Saturday.

According to IOC officials, there is almost a 50 per cent cut in supply from both these stations. There was a supply of 40 tankers every day from Mangalore while the supply was 25 tankers from the KRL to the Udayamperoor bottling plant facility of IOC till Saturday.

However, this has now come down to 20 and 13 loads respectively. “If this situation goes on there will be a real crisis. However, we are hopeful that a solution can be found in two to three days,” said an IOC official. He said there has been a shortfall in import at Mangalore port that led to the cut in supply from there.

He said there was a normal increase of 10 to 15 per cent in demand during Vishu and Easter. “We are currently supplying LPG within 35 days of an order and if the crisis escalates, I am not sure how long it will take to deliver cylinders,” he said.

Of the total LPG customer base in the five districts, nearly 55 per cent use IOC’s Indane gas.

Spurt in sham sale of domestic cylinders

With the oil companies hiking the price of cooking gas for commercial use to Rs 1,796 per cylinder, the rerouting of domestic cooking gas to the commercial sector is once again becoming strong, giving a headache to both the civil supplies and the police officials.

Domestic cooking gas is supplied at Rs 410 per cylinder while the price of commercial LPG which was Rs 800 per cylinder since

April last, has become almost double now. Members of the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association, say all categories of hotels are finding it difficult to survive in the new environment.

According to civil supplies officials in the district, their squads had detected instances of “‘re-routing” and had reported the cases to the district collector who is the authority responsible for initiating prosecution in such cases.

“The collector in certain cases initiates prosecution if more people are involved, otherwise he imposes only a fine on the offenders,” said an official. An official said LPG agencies, delivery boys and also those consumers with different domestic connections under different addresses are involved in this operation of making a quick buck.

“All of them use different devious methods. We have squads and detect cases during raids, but since the price difference between domestic and commercial gas has become so wide, we are planning to intensify our drive. The police has also powers to raid outlets under the LPG Regulation Supply Order.

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