LAHORE, Jan 8: Tree branches and shrubs in the Punjab capital are being cut indiscriminately by people belonging to low-income segment to cook food and keep themselves warm in the cold wave. The favourite area of these ‘woodcutters’ has been the Lahore Canal from Jallo to The Mall where they can use their axes, make bundles and tie them with the carriers of their bicycles without any fear, especially during early morning hours.

Unable to afford costly fuel for keeping their homes warm, a number of households are using dried grass, husk and other material used for packing fruits which were otherwise thrown in the solid waste skips.

Shopkeepers operating in the streets and mohallahs are using pieces of wooden and cardboard crates and other packing material to brace the chill in the air.

Many Lahorites are having ‘bonfires’ even during day time. An empty tin of cooking oil is usually converted into a hearth by making holes in it. Old newspapers, textbooks and copies besides parts of broken furniture are used to make fire as it is hard for many to afford Rs1,200 per 40 kilo fire wood or Rs40-50 per kilo coal.

Traders dealing in kerosene oil and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) stoves near Shah Alam Market are having a boom nowadays as a result of ongoing acute shortage of Sui gas.A standard kerosene oil stove previously available between Rs650 and Rs800 is being offered not less than Rs1,200 and that too without any warranty.

The prices of empty cylinders for LPG have also increased considerably. A two-kilo capacity cylinder previously sold between Rs250 and Rs360 was not available less than Rs460 a piece. Stove prices have also gone up from Rs160 to Rs250 a piece.