Inspections carried out by different government bodies have shown that bottlers have been focusing on sales and supply of new LP gas cylinders in the market rather than refilling the old cylinders, thereby creating an artificial shortage.
A joint monitoring team of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and the District Administration Office (DAO), Kathmandu deployed on Thursday and Friday found bottlers responsible for the ongoing shortage of LP gas.
The monitoring team on Friday found Sugam Gas Industry selling new cylinders under its brand instead of refilling the old ones, at a new depot it opend in New Baneshwor on November 25. Inspectors found 100 gas-filled new cylinders at the depot, and they were issuing only the new cylinders to customers. The cylinders were immediately seized and sent to the DAO.
Sugam Gas Industry is owned by Shiva Ghimire, president of Nepal LP Gas Industry Association. It was Ghimire who blamed NOC and its dealers for the current LP gas crunch, at a meeting of the Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee of parliament on Thursday.
A similar situation was found at one of the depots of SP Gas at Sinamangal, Thursday. Metropolitan Police Circle at Gausala took under custody Yamuna Gaire of MM Store at Sinamangal after she was found hiding old LP gas cylinders and selling only new ones. She was found charging more than Rs 4,000 per cylinder.
These instances show that bottlers and dealers of LP gas have been contributing hugely to the ongoing shortage.
“Bottlers and dealers focusing on the sale of new cylinders instead of refilling empty ones is undesirable especially at a time when the market is facing an acute shortage of the gas,” one member of the monitoring team told Republica. Kathmandu Chief District Officer Ek Narayan Aryal said investigations are underway into both cases. “If found guilty, they will be punished under the Black Market and Some Other Social Offences and Punishment Act, 2032,” said Aryal. Bottlers have been focusing on sale of new LP gas cylinders lately after NOC brought in a provision under which they need to increase the number of LP gas cylinders they have in the market before they can demand an increased quota of LP gas from NOC. Meanwhile, Ghimire of Sugam Gas tried to parry the accusation, saying, “I have not been notified about this issue. However, the dealers might have done some cheating on their own.”