Seventy nine source points of illegal gas connections in the capital, largely contributing to the ongoing gas crisis, have been untouched due to reasons hitherto unknown.
No possibility is seen to take quick actions to this effect, indicating that the city dwellers have no immediate relief from the ongoing severe gas disruption that is severely disrupting daily life.
Due to the failure in taking measures to stop illegal gas consumption, Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited (TGTDCL) has been facing extreme difficulties to maintain normal supply of gas amid cold weather when demand for the fossil fuel goes up by 20 per cent.
The situation is too bad to light up gas-fired ovens throughout the day, severely affecting people across the capital, especially children and aged people.
At the same time, such disruption is also enhancing living cost of the city dwellers, as they have to make alternative arrangements amid gas supply shortage.
However, the officials of TGTDCL largely blamed the chilly weather for the gas supply disruption. But some of them and energy experts pointed fingers to the growing trend of illegal gas consumption.
Though suffering of the city people goes up manifold due to poor supply of the fossil energy, TGTDCL is doing nothing, alleged the city dwellers.
The company is just waiting for improvement of the weather instead of finding ways to resolve the persisting problem, they added.
According to the statistics of TGTDCL, there are 345 untouched source points from where illegal gas connections were provided across the country.
The total length of illegal gas lines is around 532 kilometres and about 16,00,000 unauthorised gas burners (estimating 300 in each km) are being used through these lines consuming 17 mmcfd of gas, whose financial value is nearly Tk 14 billion.
In Dhaka city corporation areas, the company has identified a total of 79 source points and the total length of illegal lines is estimated around 40 kilometres, connecting at least 12,000 burners.
The actual number could soar further, as the population density in Dhaka is much higher than other parts of the country.
When contacted, Director (Operations) of Titas Gas H M Ali Ashraf admitted the disruption, saying the demand of gas has shot up by 20 per cent during this cold weather.
He said they can supply around 1,700 mmcfd against the demand for over 2,000 mmcfd.
But the recent spells of coldwave worsened the situation by raising the demand for natural gas for heating water in addition to condensate problem in the gas transmission and distribution lines, he also said.
"Illegal gas connections have little impact on the overall supply. This is not the main reason. The mismatch between supply and demand in this cold season is causing the crisis."
Seeking anonymity, a Titas official, however, said the people, who are trading gas connections illegally in these 79 source areas in the city, are too influential to deal with. "Honestly speaking, Titas is helpless. We took initiatives several times in the past to disconnect these lines, but all went in vein. As a result, the city often witnesses low gas pressure when the demand goes up."
The situation turns critical because of the failure in taking strict measures, as the trend of unauthorized gas usage is growing gradually, he added.
Through conducting drives against illegal connections, Titas removed 491 source points and disconnected 619 km lines in 2017, followed by 356 source points and 570 km line in 2016, while the number was 114 and 81 respectively in 2015. The data also reflects the growing trend of illegal gas connections.
While talking about the issue, Energy Adviser of Consumers' Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Professor Shamsul Alam saying Titas officials are vainly trying to establish coldwave for the gas disruption.
"Of course, it is a reason, because the demand normally goes up this season. But this is not the main reason. The main reason is illegal connections. Unfortunately, we haven't seen strict actions against the masterminds behind these."
He said the government kept raising tariffs of gas frequently, but failed to ensure its smooth supply, which severely hurts people. "The consumers are not getting gas even after paying higher tariff. A vested group is illegally getting the benefits. Titas must stop this (the network of illegal trades)," he added.
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