With depot holders on strike in protest against the central government's decision to reduce Punjab's kerosene quota, the labour class has been forced to look for other alternatives to cook meals. Due to scarcity of kerosene, shopkeepers in certain areas are minting money by selling LPG on the black market.
Officials of the food and supply department seem to have failed to check the menace as they are busy in wheat procurement.
On Tuesday, labourer Jai Parkash Saha died following a cylinder blast in Dhandhari Kalan. The cylinder that exploded was illegal.
The body of Jai Parkash Saha has been lying in the mortuary of the civil hospital as both the roommates of the deceased were reluctant to cremate the body.
The family members of the deceased have boarded a train to Ludhiana from Bihar for the cremation.
The area is flooded with illegal gas cylinders of around 5 kg capacity.
According to area residents, they have procured gas cylinders from local shops and get them refilled from the same shops.
Many shopkeepers closed their shops on Thursday to escape action against them, as they got a tip-off that the police and other departments concerned may raid their establishments.
Nirmal Singh, an area resident, alleged that a majority of the area residents were labourers and have been using illegal gas cylinders for cooking.
They have to bear the foul smell of LPG gas the whole day, as the shopkeepers of the area refill the small cylinders out of bigger ones. Rani, an area resident, who runs a tea stall using the same small gas cylinder, said that she had procured the gas cylinder and a gas stove from an area shop for Rs 600. The shopkeepers, who refill the cylinder, charge Rs 85 per kg of gas.
"I was in my shop on Tuesday when the blast took place. The impact of the blast was so severe that the tools lying on the shelf fell down. For some time, I was unable to see and hear anything," said Keshav, a carpenter.
ASI Kashmir Singh, incharge of the Dhandhari police post, said that no case has been registered as it was an accident.
"We have no idea that the gas cylinder that exploded was illegal. We will raid the shopkeepers who indulge in this illegal practice," he added.
District food and supply officer Rajnish Kumari said she was not aware about the incident as well as that the LPG sold on the black market in Dhandhari Kalan area.
She said using small cylinders was illegal, but the department would take action after 15 days, as all the officials were engaged in wheat procurement.