LPG cylinder distribution system turns topsy-turvy

Kathmandu, March 4:

The practice of exchanging gas cylinders — due to scarcity of cooking gas — while sending them back to companies for refilling is making it tough for the authorities to take action against those companies not meeting the standards and also in the case of accidents caused by mishandling of LPG cylinders.

“There is a certain code of conduct for gas industries supplying Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders to the depots but one can find gas industries refilling LPG cylinders of other gas companies also,” said Sitaram Joshi, director general of the Department of Standards and Metrology. “In case of accidents due to mishandling of LPG cylinders, the department cannot take any action against the companies as no one will take responsibility,” he added.

According to him, if only there was a system to register the number of gas cylinders such of activities could have been avoided and compensation taken from the concerned companies.

“There is a code of conduct about the system to keep a balance beam at each dealer’s depot but even this system is not being followed,” said Joshi. There are 27 gas industries here supplying LPGs in the market.

LP Gas Industry Association general secretary Ranjit Singh said, “Had the state been effective in the supply of LPG cylinders, these malpractices would have stopped.” He added that though the price of crude oil had decreased to $35 per barrel now, Nepal Oil Corporation still claims to be sustaining losses.

Consumers need LPG and they tend to take whichever company’s cylinder is available at the nearest depot, said Singh adding that it the practice could be checked if each cylinder carries its own registration number. He also said that the state itself did not have data about the number of cylinders circulated as it had not cared to maintain any statistics.

Singh said the practice of exchanging cylinders had become rampant due to shortage of LPG and because of this even the industries are forced to take whichever cylinder is available.

There are seven lakh LPG consumers in the country and the total demand of LPG imported is 12,000 metric tonnes. There are 15,000 gas dealers distributing LPG cylinders.

Gas Dealers’ Federation Nepal (GDFN) president Gyaneshwor Aryal agreed there was a lack of mechanism. According to him, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Standards and Meteorology should have formed investigation teams. “The authorised bodies should regularly cross-check the cylinders’ grant certification for these to be distributed in the market,” he said. Aryal also said that while hydro test should be carried out every year to clean the cylinder, the government was not doing anything in this regard.

Due to lack of awareness and the absence of investigation teams, consumers were being cheated as vylinders with less than stated weight were being supplied. An LPG cylinder normally weighs 14.2 kg. GDFN said it is working to introduce a weighing system.

Card distribution

KATHMANDU: From March 18, GDFN is going to distribute consumer cards in two more areas that include Jorpati, Chabahil, Kapan, Gausala, Shankhmul, Baghbazar, Putalisadak, Maitidevi, Gyaneshwor, New Baneshwor, Old Baneshwor, Bhimsengola, airport areas and Anamnagar. According to it, around 145 dealers will provide cards to their consumers. Each dealer has been allotted a maximum of 700 consumers. GDFN introduced the consumer card system on February 25. — HNS