| Consumers at an LPG outlet in Dhubri. A Telegraph picture |
May 26: If you asked a Dhubri homemaker to choose between a winning recipe and foolproof methods to save cooking gas, she will certainly grab the second one.
With gas agencies in the district failing to live up to their promise of delivering LPG cylinders within 21 days of booking, households in Dhubri are trying every trick in the book to make their cylinders last as long as possible while keeping alternatives like kerosene stoves ready.
The queues outside gas agencies are only getting longer, as supply remains irregular and chaotic.
Residents allege that though gas agencies plead helplessness for lack of supply, cylinders are available in the black market.
“Though the scarcity of cooking gas has been persisting for the past few months, the consumers cannot hurriedly switch over to other alternatives immediately. Even kerosene is dearer,” said Ganesh Sen, a social activist.
Zakir Azim Beg, another consumer, said though there is a rule in place that the cylinders should be delivered at the doorstep, gas agencies rarely take the trouble of sending their carriers.
The attitude of those manning the agencies only makes things worse.
“The staff of the gas agencies never listen to consumers patiently. Their insolence often leads to unnecessary fights,” Beg said.
Sen said a leading organisation of citizens would soon meet Dhubri deputy commissioner Jatindra Lahakar and lodge a complaint on this “artificial scarcity” of cooking gas since cylinders are available in the black market at a higher price.
Dhubri district deputy director of food and civil supplies, Thaneswar Bania, on the other hand, said supply has been hit because of technical defects at the Bongaigaon bottling plants a few months back.
Gas was being supplied from other plants in the state and operation at the Bongaigaon plant was restored only last week. The supply is likely to come back to normal within a couple of days, Bania said.
“There are four gas agencies in Dhubri and Gouripur and their total count of consumers is 38,988. Dhubri Ashok Gas Agency has a connection count of 12,070, Gadadhar Gas Agency has 11,500 consumers while Krishna Gas Agency and Bama Gas Agency has 12,322 and 3,096 connections. But none them (gas agencies) get adequate supply of cooking gas cylinders against their connections,” Bania said.
He promised to streamline the distribution of gas and crackdown on black marketers.
He even seized 34 gas cylinders from Gouripur from black marketers last week.
Despite Bania’s promises, sources said production at the Bongaigaon bottling plant is lesser than usual and it would only add to the current scarcity.