Law proposed to clean LPG mess

Task force submits report

Kathmandu, August 1:

A government taskforce, in its report submitted to the ministry of industry, commerce and supplies (MoICS), has recommended the government to formulate a separate law to manage and check irregularities in cooking gas (LPG) trading.

The government had formed the taskforce, led by Shankar Prasad Poudel, director at the Department of Commerce(DoC), one and half month ago, following rising complaints from consumers related to low weight in cylinders, use of outdated cylinders, hoarding and black marketing, change in bottom colour, misuse of company trademark and breakage of seal in cylinders.

The taskforce submitted its report to DoC last week, which has now reached the MoICS and the ministry is considering formulating a draft bill based on the recommendations, said a senior official at MoICS.

The major thrust of the report is to draft a separate law for LPG trading, supply and imports, the official said, adding that a separate pricing for household consumers and commercial consumers like hotels and vehicles has also been suggested in the report.

Over 40 per cent cooking gas, which is subsidised by the government, is used by the commercial sector, mainly by hotels and transporters.

In order to ensure adequate supply of cooking gas and to curb black marketing, it has also been suggested to increase the import quota by about 25 to 30 per cent or up to 9,500 metric tonnes (MT) a month from the current 7,500 MT.

The government may involve the private sector for import of cooking gas, if the current sole importer, Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) alone cannot do the task, the report says.

Special provisions are to be made for fixing a life span on gas cylinders, its quality, size, weight and seal. The LPG bottling companies should make all these known to consumers.

Another important area that the report has underlined for action is formulating a special provision for transportation of cooking gas, which is highly inflammable. The report has suggested that transportation of bulk LPG by ‘bullet tankers’ should be incorporated under the legislation for ‘usage and transportation of explosives’, which specifies the method for transporting explosive goods.

“This suggestion is based on the practice in India, where transportation of LPG is carried out under the umbrella of provisions for explosive transportation,” the official said.

The official added that the taskforce, while preparing the report, has examined LP gas bottling companies to ascertain whether they are adhering to quality and quantity norms set by the government. Suggestions from dealers, consumers and entrepreneurs have also been incorporated in the report.

Besides officials of DoC, the taskforce comprised of representatives from NOC, Nepal Bureau of Standard and Metrology (NBSM), district administration office, security agencies and Consumer Rights Forum.

The Kathmandu valley alone consumes 80 per cent of the monthly total import of over 9,000 metric tonnes of LPG, where the normal daily supply of bottled LPG stands at 10,000 cylinders in the valley.

Of the total 21 LPG bottling plants, 14 are operational in the country.