Defying existing laws, bottlers announce halting LPG importsAgainst existing laws that bar traders from disrupting the supply of essentials, bottlers of cooking gas have decided to halt importing the fuel from Tuesday.
Against existing laws that bar traders from disrupting the supply of essentials, bottlers of cooking gas have decided to halt importing the fuel from Tuesday.
In a press release issued on Monday, the Nepal LP Gas Industry Association has declared the bottlers will stop taking purchase delivery orders (PDOs) from Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) for importing cooking gas.
According to the Essential Goods Control Act 1960, traders halting the supply essentials, including petroleum products, are subject a cash penalty of Rs15,000 or a five-year jail term or both.
The bottles have demanded the government roll back its decision to halt the issuance of PDOs to Himalayan Petrochemicals, bottler of HP Gas, following last month’s incident of cylinder explosion in Haugal, Lalitpur, in which three people were killed. The tragedy occurred allegedly due to faulty cylinders of HP Gas.
On the recommendation of the Consumer Protection Council, the government last week decided to ban HP Gas from importing Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). Following the move, the bottlers had given a five-day ultimatum to the government to scrap its decision.
“It is unfair to take action against a single gas company without assessing the report of the probe committee,” said Shiva Ghimire, president of the association and also the proprietor Sugam Gas. The investigation committee has also been asked to look into a recent incident of fire at Kalimati allegedly due to a leak in a Sugam Gas cylinder, in which a person died and six were injured.
The probe panel led by Laxman Shrestha, director of Department of Supply Management, has not formally made its report public yet.
During an investigation carried out by Metropolitan Police Range, Lalitpur, in presence of the victims’ family members and consumer rights activists, it was found that the wall thickness of the exploded HP Gas cylinder was only 1.83 mm thick. As per the standard set by the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology, the wall thickness of a cooking gas cylinder should be between 2.4 mm and 2.9 mm.
Meanwhile, the Supply Ministry has said it has not enforced its decision to ban HP Gas.
Joint Secretary Uttam Prasad Nagila said they have not yet decided to implement the recommendation of the Consumer Protection Council. “As far as the bottlers’ plans to halt LPG supply, we will discuss the matter,” he said.
Ministry releases vague report
KATHMANDU: The Supply Ministry on Monday came up with an ambiguous report on last month’s incident of HP Gas cylinder explosion at a metal workshop in Haugaal, Lalitpur, in which three people lost their lives. The report obtained by The Kathmandu Post states the blast took place probably due to “back fire” caused by the mixing of cooking gas with oxygen gas that was being used in the metal workshop. “However, the field-based report does not confirm any such ‘back fire’,” the report adds. Ruling out any leakage in the cylinder, the report says HP Gas cylinders are just two-year old and that they do not require hydrostatic testing. “The cylinder scraps found in the site are of different thickness, ranging from 1.84mm to 2.39mm, which could due to high pressure and temperature as a result of the blast.”