As gas supply remains cut- off for more than 10 days, 12,000 consumers of Titas Gas in Kamrangirchar area of the capital are passing their days in extreme misery.
Titas Gas Transmission & Distribution Company Limited disconnected the legal gas connections to punish illegal users and bill defaulters in the Kamrangirchar area on May 10.
Public representatives came forward last week to help resolve the gas outage in Kamrangirchar, but they could not give much hope about the restoration of gas supply.
Local councillors spoke to the Titas Gas authorities on Monday to reach a solution. Later, on Thursday last, top officials of Titas met with locals, including four councilors, at the Kamrul Islam Community Center in Rasulpur, Kamrangirchar to resolve the crisis. But so far no solution has been found. It is uncertain when gas supply to the area will be normal.
Md. Haronur Rashid Mullah, Managing Director of Titas said, "We have stated that the gas connection will not be provided unless the arrears are recovered and the illegal connection is disconnected. They (local residents) agreed. The de-link drive will start from May 23. After completion of the disconnection drive, gas will be supplied to Kamrangirchar again."
The company said it would restore the gas supply only after the illegal connections were disconnected and at least half of their dues are collected.
Residents of Kamrangirchar are in dire straits due to such insensate activities of the country’s largest state-owned gas distribution company. They have to spend extra money on cooking and commercial work. Many fall ill after taking food at restaurants this summer.
Titas gas Consumers complained that gas had been cut off in the area without any discussion. Some dishonest officials of Titas as well as some contractors are involved in illegal gas connections. Titas official said that arrears of gas bills and illegal gas connections are increasing day by day in the area. Repeated reminders for payment of arrears did not work. Even if the illegal connection is disconnected, it is restored within a few days. In such a situation, all the gas supply lines in the area have been snapped on May 10.
Shahana, a local resident of Khalifaghat area of Kamrangirchar, told Bangladesh Post, Titas authorities on Tuesday announced that the gas supply would stop for emergency maintenance work. There has been no gas since 5 pm from that day. However, Titas did not say at the time of the announcement that the entire area was being disconnected due to illegal connections and bills in arrears. They were not even told when the gas supply would be normal.
“We are using legitimate gas connections. We have no bills in arrears. Even then we have been suffering for the last few days. Since there is no gas, costly fuel wood has to be bought for cooking. Titas will also collect the bill for a few days at the end of the month by keeping the gas supply stopped. This is an extreme injustice. We want a quick remedy,” she added.
Anwar Hossain, a resident of Kumarghat area, expressed his displeasure and said that “it was not possible to take illegal connections without the nexus of Titas officials and employees. Titas's unscrupulous officials and local influential people are receiving huge sums of money every month in exchange for illegal connections. They have made us suffer. But the authorities concerned have not taken any legal action against them.”
“Titas disconnects gas connections for ordinary people with only one month's bill in arrears. However, those who pay bribes, no action is taken against them even if they have big arrears to pay. Titas is largely responsible for this situation,” he added.
Aleya Sultana, a homemaker in Hazaribag Model Town said they bought take-out food on the first day of the gas outage and have since started using a kerosene stove and then LPG cylinders to cook at home.
Managing Director of Titas Gas Transmission & Distribution Company Limited told Bangladesh Post there are about 12,000 consumers of Titas in Kamrangirchar area, while there are several more illegal connections out there. Many people are using gas in small factories and commercial purposes with residential connections. Titas could not find any solution even after conducting multiple operations. On the other hand, there is an outstanding gas bill of around Tk 67 crore. Repeated request for payment of arrears did not work. So ,the gas supply in the area has been cut off.
In reply to a question, he said most of them are using illegal connections or have outstanding bills in the areas where gas supply has been cut off. However, it may include some legitimate consumers who have no outstanding bills. There are isolated cases. We have nothing to do here. Because the government is importing LNG at high prices to meet the country’s gas demand. This gas cannot be wasted this way.