GUWAHATI, Jan 4 � Shortage of LPG cylinders in the markets ahead of the ensuing Bihu festival has made the common people apprehensive about the availability of the much needed component of a Bihu feast - the fuel, during the festival.
While the authorities are claiming that the supply would become normal by the festival, the common people also want the administration to take strict action against the hoarders and black-marketeers who take advantage of the high demand for LPG cylinders during the winter season, especially ahead of occasions like New Year or Magh Bihu.
A big hike of around Rs 220 per non-subsidized cylinder has further added to the woes of the common people. The consumers also complained about the irregular supplies of the LPG cylinders and unusual delay in the home delivery of the cylinders.
�The entire eastern region has been facing a crisis of LPG cylinders due to some problems in the procurement of LPG from the international market, which has affected the supply in the North-eastern region too. However, the situation is improving gradually,� said sources at the IOCL North East Integrated State Office.
The monthly LPG requirement of the Northeast region is around 30,000 MT, with 1 MT LPG filling up roughly 70.5 gas cylinders. Of this, the domestic generation is supposed to be 18,000 to 19,000 MT, which come from the four refineries including Digboi, Numaligarh, Guwahati and Bongaigaon. The GAIL LPG plant at Lakuwa and OIL plant at Duliajan also contribute to this.
�However, we never get 19,000 MT LPG from domestic production due to one reason or another and the balanced demand is filled up by international purchase that comes here via Haldia. Last month, the total LPG supply to the North East was 27,500 MT,� added the sources.
�Non-availability of cylinders and the recurrent rate hike have put the consumers in a tight spot. Regular increase in the cylinder prices is affecting our domestic budget. I booked my cylinder during the early part of December and still waiting for its home delivery,� said a consumer of Chandmari area. Long queues were also witnessed outside the gas agencies in some other parts of the city including Fatasil Ambari.
Arguing that the computerization of records has brought the much needed transparency in the gas distributorship, proprietor of Blue Flame gas agency Satyamrit Kagti told The Assam Tribune that the consumers should also exercise a restraint and should not go for multiple connections unnecessarily.
�Nearly 20 per cent demand for LPG shoots up during the winter season, which creates an additional burden. Further, irregular supply from the sources, has affected the consumers. When the supplies were regular, we used to provide cylinders to the consumers within a week of booking,� he added.