‘Over 500k’ new cylinders might have entered mktRecords at Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology (NBSM) suggest more than 500,000 new cylinders might have entered the market over the past seven months.
Amid complaints about LPG bottlers selling new cooking gas cylinders instead of refilling during the Indian embargo and Tarai unrest, records at Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology (NBSM) suggest more than 500,000 new cylinders might have entered the market over the past seven months.
NBSM certified 496,000 new cylinders manufactured by domestic companies during the period between mid-August 2015 and mid-March 2016, according to its Director General Bishwo Babu Pudasaini. “Besides, the department also licensed 20,000 new cylinders imported by Nepal Gas during the period,” he said.
Three domestic companies—Aerotech, Nepal Cylinders and Grihalaxmi Metal Industries—manufacture LPG cylinders. NBSM has made it mandatory for LPG cylinders manufacturers to certify their products with “Nepal Standard” before they are sent to the market.
However, Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) said none of the LPG bottlers have registered their new cylinders with it. NOC’s approval is mandatory for the gas plants to add and distribute new cylinders. NOC Spokesperson Mukunda Ghimire confirmed the state-owned oil monopoly has not permitted the gas bottlers to add and distribute new cylinders. NOC, as of last fiscal year, has approved 53 LPG bottling companies to distribute 6.2 million cylinders.
During the embargo that lasted for four and half months, LPG bottlers had been accused of selling new cylinders at hefty price instead of refilling. The situation has not improved even after the lifting of the embargo. NOC claims the supply has been improved, but the general public are finding it difficult to buy the fuel.
“There’s no problem for customers willing to purchase new cylinders, but those intending to refill old cylinders have to return empty handed even now,” said Gyaneshwor Aryal, president of Gas Dealers’ Federation Nepal. He estimated that more than two million new cylinders might have entered the market during the embargo.
As per the NOC record, the LPG imports, which amounted to 4,498 tonnes during mid-September and mid-October, have increased to 21,685 tonnes during mid-February and mid-March. In the last three weeks, the imports stood at 17,341 tonnes, according to Ghimire.
Meanwhile, the Supply Ministry said it will investigate whether new cylinders were distributed during the embargo. “We are going to collect data from NBSM, enquire NOC, gas bottlers and dealers to find out how many new cylinders were circulated,” said Ananda Ram Regmi, spokesperson for the ministry.
He said a joint meeting at the Home Ministry on Sunday has decided to intensify joint market inspection and strengthen the control room set up at NOC for effective LPG distribution.