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99 Yatra
Shortage of LPG plagues Kutch
19 February 2006

Bhuj, February 19: Shortage of LPG cylinders — both domestic and commercial — continues to plague the border district. Reason being short supply mainly by the main public sector oil company, IOC.

Sources alleged that though the shortage of domestic cylinders was due to nation-wide 20 per cent cut enforced by the Central petroleum ministry, the company had made it 40 per cent in the border district.

But why this shortage of commercial refills, as there was no subsidy and the oil company got full amount in advance? asked an LPG distributor in an eastern Kutch town.

He and other distributors of the company in Bhuj, Gandhidham and Bhachau, which have seen a spurt in demand of commercial cylinders because of concentration of new industries in upcoming industrial belt from Anjar to Bhachau, have similar complaints.

‘‘Domestic gas consumers can wait but industries cannot afford to shut their production for a week (supply of cylinders takes even more time). The present demand has risen to 15,000 to 20,000 a month. Some time ago we were encouraged by the company to sell more and more commercial cylinders, but for the past 4-5 months we have been incurring wrath of our commercial consumers whom we are unable to supply in time for no fault of ours,’’ says an LPG dealer.

According to him, gas dealers here did not receive a letter from IOC this month informing them of their monthly allotment of quota, despite the company’s declaration in a meeting with the State government a fortnight ago that there was no restrictions on demand.

Confirming erratic supply, several big and small steel industrial units said that since it severely affected their production, they had switched over to other public sector and private sector gas companies.

For domestic gas consumer having single connection, the problem has only magnified — he gets his refill after 40-45 days. And since he has a gas connection, he is not entitled to government quota kerosene either.

‘‘Post-quake, there has been increase in number of nuclear families. But no new ration card — sole criterion to get a gas connection — has been issued in last five years. There are at least 10,000 pending applications for ration cards.’’

Deputy Manager, IOC, Kutch and Jamnagar, Vardharajan, however, denied that there was any acute shortage of gas cylcinders in the border district but confirmed that their company’s rule did not permit new gas connection without a ration card.

Not ready to buy IOC officials claim, a Bhuj distributor said: ‘‘No this is not true. We had made bookings for 180 bottles early this week but got only 90 and that too after a delay and having paid full amount in advance.

Showing records indicating that they were not supplied gas cylinders, both commercial and domestic, on time, officials of Gujarat Civil Supplies Corporation said, ‘‘We need minimum 45 truck loads of gas cyclinders in a month. We make full payment in advance but get only 28 to 29 trucks in a month. As a result, our customers get their refills only after 40 to 45 days. We have to face public ire because of it.’’

D. V. Maheshwari
Ahmedabad News Line kutchhis globally , from Mumbai

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