Titas Gas Transmission & Distribution Company Limited has disconnected legal gas connections to punish illegal users and bill defaulters in the Kamrangirchar area of the capital.
The gas consumers of the area have been suffering for the last three days due to such insensate activities of the country’s largest state-owned gas distribution company.
A Titas official said that arrears of gas bills and illegal gas connections are increasing day by day in the Kamrangirchar area. Repeated reminders for payment of arrears did not work. Meanwhile, even if I disconnect the illegal connection, it is restored within a few days. In such a situation, all the gas supply lines in the area have been shut down till 6 pm 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 be shut down 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 normalised.
“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, fuel wood has to be bought for cooking, which is costly. Titas will also collect the bill for a few days at the end of the month by keeping the gas supply shut down. 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 cooperation 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 concerned authorities have not taken any legal action against them.”
“Titus disconnects gas connections for ordinary people with only one month's bill in arrears. However, those who pay bribes, even if they have bills for months, no action is taken. Titas is largely responsible for this situation,” he added.
Md. Haronur Rashid Mullah, Managing Director of Titas Gas Transmission & Distribution Company Limited told Bangladesh Post that 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. Repeatedly begging for arrears did not work. So the gas supply in the area has been cut off. Now the people of Kamrangirchar have to give assurance that they will not use illegal gas, and will pay the arrears. Then the connection will be restored.
In response to a question, he said that 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 in this way.
Earlier, on February 8, the Titas Gas Authority disconnected more than 2,500 illegal gas connections in the Jhauchar area of Kamrangirchar.
Illegal gas connections in the area were cut off at least four times a year. But every time the influential people of the area reconnect it. And they had taken taka 20 to 25 thousand from each family. As a result the tenants and low-income people are in trouble. And the price of wood and gas cylinders goes up in the area during such operations.
The Energy and Mineral Resources Division has recently been much tougher on illegal connections. The matter is being monitored regularly by the energy division.