With the demand for cooking gas cylinders growing, key oil companies diverted bulk of their supply to the City and operated their bottling plants on Sundays to meet the shortage.
Indore gets supplies from Hindustan Petroleum (HP), Indian Oil Company (IOC) and Bharat Petroleum Company (BPC). Of the three, IOC caters to 45 per cent of the total demand.
This has reduced the shortfall from 60,000 to 45,000 LPG cylinders per day, which means a backlog of three days. Against the average booking of 14,000 cylinders a day, the average supply has been between 12,000 and 18,000 vessels during the past fortnight, District Supply Controller B L Kasat said.
Their attempt to divert LPG supplies to Indore has created shortage in other districts like Mandsaur, Ratlam, Neemuch and Rajasthan’s Nakoda.
Despite diversion of supplies to Indore, people are frantically booking cylinders. For instance, single-cylinder customers who go for a refill in 35 days continue to book it in 20 days and those with double cylinders have had two to three refills in a month. This shortage has been compounded with about 50 per cent of the total supplies being picked up by single-cylinder customers on the same day.
“There should at least be a gap of three to five days for single-cylinder customers till the supplies get normal. We are working on this,” said HP sales officer Rohit Mago.
To curb artificial shortage, IOC has directed its local officials to keep track of consumption pattern while asking distributors to check on customers demanding three domestic refills a month without enough reasons. “The idea is to check the vested interests and avoid panic booking. Besides, we are keeping a watch on commercial customers like hotels and restaurants who use domestic cylinders,” an IOC official said.
While oil companies have assured administration to bring wait period to two to three days by next week, they have ensured cooperation on raiding large commercial users of domestic supplies.
The shortfall began towards August-end with rains disrupting gas supplies from Gujarat and the surrounding region. This led to a shotfall of regular supplies by 10 percent, triggering panic booking. After this, the HP bottling plant at Mangaliya, BP’s at Pithampur and IOC’s at Nazarpur (Ujjain) were asked to work overtime to meet the crisis.