As disputes between Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), LPG bottling companies and LPG dealers as well as distributors continue, the Valley denizens are likely to face an acute shortage of cooking gas when the current stocks run out. The distributors and dealers have not received new supplies after the Nepal LP Gas Industry Association (NLPGIA) pulled down shutters last Sunday, demanding that NOC increase its import quota of LPG from the current level of 7,523 metric tonnes a month to 10,000 metric tonnes to meet the galloping demands; and that the bottlers be compensated for the hike in transportation costs. At the same time, the dealers accuse the NLPGIA of conspiring “to encourage short supply.”
It is ironic that NLPGIA is striking to meet the increasing demands of its customers, even while the same customers are likely to be greatly inconvenienced by disruptions in the current supply level. The moot question is: Can NOC afford to subsidise 10,000 metric tonnes of LPG? If indeed NOC decides to import more LPG, it will be forced to increase the market price — that is bound to spark public uproar. In this context, it is very irresponsible for the bottlers to stop supplying cooking gas for public consumption. They should remember that they have a social obligation to cater to the needs of their valued customers. The NOC, on its part, can at least agree to share the burden of transportation costs for the bottlers even if it cannot increase the import quota.