GUJRAT: The manufacturing and sale of substandard cylinders of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) continue unabated in Gujranwala city where more than 400 illegally established units are involved in the hazardous trade.
With the onset of winter, the federal government has announced a severe shortage of gas this year as a result of which the demand of gas cylinders has soared. Only 14 units across the country have the licence of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) for cylinder manufacturing -- seven of these are in Gujranwala. Only three units (all in Gujranwala) have the licence to manufacture the cylinder valves.
Some of the licensed manufacturing units of the cylinders have already been shut down for being unable to compete due to sale of substandard cylinders in Gujranwala. The city’s Jinnah Road is known for the sale of such low-quality cylinders which jeopardise the lives of consumers as well as unit workers.
According to a data gleaned by the LPG Cylinder Dealers Association, two incidents of cylinder blast occurs daily in the country whereas 8,000 people have been killed in these incidents during the last 16 years.
More than 400 illegal units thrive in Gujranwala
Hundreds of unapproved manufacturing units are operating in the residential localities of Gujranwala city and these units have not been registered with any government department and also evade the taxes.
Muhammad Jamil, who runs an approved cylinder manufacturing unit, said the weight of an (approved) cylinder should be 15 kilogrammes that could be filled with at least 11.8kg gas whereas the substandard cylinders often weigh three kilogrammes or so and are filled with 12kg gas, which results in blasts.
He said a person dealing in low-quality cylinders as well as the consumer faced high risk and there’s an urgent need to ban sale of such substandard cylinders.
Although Ogra is the competent authority to take action against that illegal trade, it has delegated its powers under section 29 of OGRA Ordinance 2002 to deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners to take action against the violators.
“The provincial chief secretaries had been told by Ogra through a letter of June 10, 2021 that the DCs and ACs could use the authority until Feb 24, 2024. However, the district and tehsil administrations remain aloof,” deplores an LPG cylinder dealer.
LPG Dealers Association chairman Irfan Khokhar told Dawn that the substandard gas cylinders had reached almost every house of the country which was facing 70pc shortfall of natural gas. He said the supplies to the commercial customers was being disconnected.
He said the administration could at least stop the supply chain of the illegally manufactured cylinders by blocking the transportation of the product from Gujranwala and sealing the units. He stressed the need for adopting new legislation to curb the menace and demanded imposition of section 302 of Pakistan Penal Code against those involved in the illegal business.
He deplored that even an Ogra-approved cylinder unit had been found involved in manufacturing substandard cylinders and he sealed the unit but it relaunched the production later.
Another manufacturer said that since the closure of the production by the steel mills of Karachi, the specific metal required as a basic raw material in cylinder manufacturing could only be imported as it was not available in the market so the producers should be asked to produce the import documents of that metal from abroad. He said at least 235 marketing companies had been registered with Ogra to trade the LPG gas in Pakistan.
The LPG dealers association had staged protest demonstrations in Gujranwala, demanding a strict action against the manufacturers and transport operators involved in the illegal practice.
A senior official in Gujranwala’s district administration said that previously the local authorities had launched several crackdowns on such manufacturers and traders but such elements again surfaced and continual action as well as improved law could help tackle the issue.
Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2022