LPG still hard to find despite rising importsPeople are still finding it difficult to buy a cooking gas cylinder despite Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC)’s claims the gas supply has improved.
People are still finding it difficult to buy a cooking gas cylinder despite Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC)’s claims the gas supply has improved.
Even gas dealers have not been getting Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders in line with the schedule set by LPG bottlers, they said.
According to NOC, LPG imports in March reached more than 30,000 tonnes compared to a mere 4,000-5,000 per month during the four-and-half-month trade embargo imposed by India. NOC’s Spokesperson Mukunda Ghimire said NOC has been importing 55-60 bullets of cooking gas daily on an average.
NOC plans to increase the imports further in April. “We have asked the Indian Oil Corporation to supply 40,000 tonnes in April,” said Ghimire. The normal monthly LPG imports stood at 29,000 tonnes a month before the blockade.
“However, due to traffic congestion at Nepal-India borders and other logistics problems, we might not achieve the target despite commitment from IOC to provide the demanded quantity,” he said.
NOC said it has rented an additional 35 bullets from Indian transporters on a temporary basis for the last few days. With the addition, NOC has been mobilising 500 bullets to transport cooking gas from India.
Consumers’ right activists have accused gas companies of involving in black-marketeering and creating artificial shortage.
Madhav Timilsina, president of Consumer Rights Investigation Forum, accused gas companies of selling the fuel only to commercial consumers. “Taking undue advantage of the ongoing wedding season, the companies have been found selling cooking gas at higher rates to catering business, restaurants and hotels,” he said.
The gas companies, since April 9, have been selling cooking gas only through some designated depots, claiming the is aimed at easing the short supply. However, even the depots have not received the pre-agreed quantity of fuel as per the schedule.
Chhabilal Chaulagain, proprietor of Om Chamunda Gas Store in Jorpati, Kathmandu, said his customers had to return empty-handed after the company did not supply the fuel. “The customers had queued-up overnight after we informed them that the company would supply gas the following day,” he said.
Rajesh Dahal, general secretary of Gas Dealers Association, said: “Many gas dealers are compelled to return their customers empty handed after gas companies failed to supply the fuel on various pretexts.”
Dahal, who is also a member of the gas distribution control room at NOC, said the bottlers on Sunday distributed LPG through the depots based at New Road, Ason, Kalimati, Lagan, Putalisadak, Kalikasthan, Tripureshwor, Bijulibajar, Gyaneshwor and Maitidevi.
As per the control room, a total of 20,000 cylinders from 19 gas companies were distributed from the abovementioned locations. Dahal said there is demand for 35,000-40,000 cylinders in the areas.
On April 11, 14,286 cylinders from eight LPG brands were sold in Bhaktapur. On April 12, 21,811 cylinders from 24 companies were distributed at New Baneshwor, Koteshwor, Shankhamul, Maitighar, Buddhanagar and Babarmahal, in Kathmandu. Eighteen companies sold 20,104 cylinders on Thursday.
Lalitpur district was scheduled to get cooking gas on Friday, but it did not happen. Dahal said gas companies have not provided any report about the distribution in Lalitpur.
Shiva Ghimire, president of Nepal LP Gas Industry Association, however, claimed they have been supplying gas without any vested interest. “We have been diverting only the excess quantity to depots in alternative areas,” he said.