May 6: The Indian Oil Corporation Limited, resumed distribution of LPG cylinders to gas agencies today as “temporary relief”.
However, the company has sought at least a month to normalise the supply of cooking gas to the consumers in the city.
The move comes a day after its meeting with Kamrup (metro) district administration, during which the company was asked to restore normality in supply of cooking gas within a week and ensure 100 per cent home delivery.
The company’s deputy general manager (marketing), A.C. Sarma, told The Telegraph that they had resumed bottling of LPG cylinders in their two bottling plants at Mirza and north Guwahati, and distribution of cylinders to agencies continued till 10pm but it was a “temporary relief” as the company was still running short of supply of bulk gas.
“It is just a temporary relief and we will require at least a month to restore normal supply. Today, we resumed bottling from our stocks of 6,000 metric tonnes of gas and we will continue the process tomorrow as well,” Sarma said.
People in the city are facing a tough time because of the ongoing crisis. Many consumers have not got a refill even after two months of booking.
“I had booked a cylinder at Chandra Gas Service at Chatribari more than a month ago but I was informed that they were out of stock. I had borrowed a cylinder from my neighbour and we are left with no option but to share a cylinder,” Draupadi Devi Gupta, a 63-year-old homemaker at Kedar Road in Fancy Bazar, said.
Following public protests, Kamrup (metro) deputy commissioner Ashutosh Agnihotri yesterday asked the company to continue bottling even on Sunday and distribute 20,000 LPG cylinders and another 15,000 cylinders tomorrow to the agencies.
The deputy commissioner asked the oil company to give priority to consumers in the city and ensure 100 per cent home delivery.
Sarma said LPG crisis was triggered by shortage of supply of bulk gas from their refineries in Haldia, Digboi, Bongaigaon and Numaligarh.
“Normally, we get 2,000 metric tonnes of gas from Hadia, which we are not getting because of shortage of supply in international market. We are also not receiving 4,000MT from Digboi, 300MT from Bongaigaon because of ongoing maintenance. Moreover, production in Numaligarh refinery from where we used to get 600MT of gas was affected because of the recent fire,” he said.
Sarma, however, said there was no “man-made” shortage of cylinders. “This is not an artificial crisis but a real one because of the shortage in supply,” he said.
Sarma’s comment, however, received a sharp reaction from the Consumers Legal Protection Forum, an NGO, which has been demanding normal supply of LPG cylinders according to the provisions in the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Regulation of Supply and Distribution) Order, 2000.
“If there is no artificial crisis, how are cylinders available in black market at prices ranging from Rs 700 to Rs 800? Even people without LPG connections are getting cylinders at higher prices. We have seen some families with three or four gas connections even though only one connection is allowed for a family,” chief coordinator of the group, Ajoy Hazarika, said.
Sarma blamed irregularities by some gas agencies for issuing more than one connection to a family.
“But now it is not possible for a family to get more than one connection as we have made the process stricter,” he said.