The misuse of domestic liquified petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders is going unchecked in the wake of the festival season here.
Lack of vigil has not only led to misuse, but has also led to selling of cylinders on the black market with many small fast food joints, dhabas, restaurants and hotels in the town using the same which otherwise is prohibited by law for use in commercial purpose.
There are about 1,500 commercial gas connections in Shimla city, whereas the number of dhabas, hotels and tea shops in the city is three-fold.
The reason for use of domestic gas cylinders instead of commercial ones is undoubtedly the huge price gap between the two. The price of subsidised 14.2-kg cylinder for domestic purpose is `427, while that for 19-kg cylinder meant for commercial use is Rs 1,737.
This affects the supply of the domestic gas market to genuine consumers, leading to its shortage.
Not only small entrepreneurs, but even some major catering houses were illegally using domestic LPG cylinders to ensure maximum benefit, rued consumer Surjeet Singh.
He said, “Though there are strict rules for prohibiting the use of domestic gas for commercial purposes, owners of some hotels and dhabas manage to dupe the government authorities by displaying blue-coloured cylinders outside their business establishments while they actually use domestic cylinders inside.”
Illegal use of domestic LPG cylinders for commercial purposes raises a serious concern on the functioning of the food and civil supplies department, whether it is sincerely conducting aids to find out domestic cylinders illegal use.
Official sources said the LPG agencies were also hand in glove with commercial catering firms.
Food and civil supplies and consumer department district controller Ramesh Gangotra said, “As the festival season is on, our staff is making all efforts to reduce this illegal practice and raids are being conducted to control this illegal use.”
He added, “We have seized three cylinders from Nabha (below railway station, Shimla) in a week. Measures will be taken to maintain strict vigil not only in the festive season, but also round the year.”
Sources revealed that there are many people who have got multiple connections in the names of different family members (living in same place) which resulted in black-marketing.
The ministry has issued directions to oil companies and every gas agency to fill Know Your Customer (KYC) forms of each and every customer to help identify those people who have more than one gas connection from different gas agency with same name and address, which is not being complied with strictly.
Even direct money transfer scheme launched by the government is not implemented in many parts of the city and black-marketing and illegal use continues to flourish.