Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) consumers often rue delay in the supply or forcible sale of commodities by authorised agencies when they should be worrying about a much bigger problem.
As per reports, a large number of expired cylinders are in use in clear violation of the rules and guidelines prescribed by the regulatory authorities.
Since consumers hardly know that cylinders too have an expiry date and fail to lodge a complaint, the expired cylinders keep circulating in the market. Cylinders of expired dates are more prone to leakage from valves, which can lead to explosions.
Lifespan is written on every LPG cylinder on one of the three vertical iron plates but, due to unawareness, consumers do not pay attention to it.
As per the LPG control order, after the lapse of the encoded time period, the cylinder needs to be sent for rechecking and recertification for further use in market, but sources reveal that it did not always happen. A 3-digit code shows the expiry which starts with A, B, C or D letter which signifies 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarter of the year respectively.
For instance, if the expiry code is A14, it would mean the expiry is in the first quarter of 2014. Similarly D15 would mean the cylinder could be used till 4th quarter of 2015. After rechecking, a new code is written on the gas cylinder depicting its lifespan.
District food and civil supplies controller Rajnish Kumari said her office never received any such a complaint. It was for the oil agencies to ensure that testing is done regularly, she added.
Ajay Kumar, head of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation bottling plant at Mandiala, said that if there were some old cylinders in circulation, the consumers must bring it to the notice of the agency concerned.
"Different supply agencies have different certifying agents, some get it done from within their premises while others hire services of private companies," he informed. He said if a cylinder was found damaged during the statuary test, the cylinder is scrapped. "
Whenever an empty cylinder comes to the bottling plant for refilling, it is checked for its condition. "Cylinders due for testing are segregated and sent for the same," he added.
He clarified that the marking on the cylinder only mentioned the date of statutory testing, it did not denote the expiry of its physical life. However, awareness about the validity of the cylinders is very low. Jasbir, a local resident, admitted that she did not know that LPG cylinders had validity period.
Another consumer Renu said she only checked the condition of the valve and knob to ascertain that there was no leakage. Another consumer Paramvir Pamma, said that he had woken up to the issue only recently when he sighted a tattered cylinder being delivered to his neighbour.
Social Democratic Party president Jai Gopal Dhiman, who often takes on gas agencies for poor delivery and black- marketing, said that besides checking the soundness of the cylinder, consumers should also go in for weight check before taking the delivery as many cylinders are known to contain less than the prescribed gas.