No hassle of rolling cylinders on sparkling, new flooring, or remembering to make a call to the agency, or hoping that every time the door bell rings it is the delivery boy. Piped LPG, which comes with certain distinct advantages, seems to be picking up well in the city for precisely these reasons.
Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) is one of the major providers of reticulated LPG system. According to P.J. Vijaykar, Regional Coordinator (south), LPG, BPCL, nearly 3,000 homes have been provided piped supply of LPG in the last two years alone.
“Many seem to prefer this, particularly in designer apartments. The apartment complexes are provided with a bank of cylinders. The owners' association or society is responsible for the maintenance. The meter reading will show when they need to get a refill,” he explains.
The system is also a very safe alternative, some persons vouch.
P. Karthikeyan, director, Arun Excello Group of Companies, says the reticulated LPG system has an inbuilt “leak detector.” In the event of a leakage, the system would automatically shut down and supply cut instantly.
Currently partnering BPCL for providing piped cooking gas supply for nearly 650 homes, the company would soon extend the facility to cover nearly 2,000 homes in all. “We are locating our cylinder bank half a km from the residential area. It needs to be well ventilated and have separate enclosures. Once the basic safety elements are taken care of, it is most convenient,” Mr. Karthikeyan adds. The cylinders are bigger and have a capacity of about 35 kg, unlike the regular 14.2 kg domestic cylinders supplied to homes.
When Ceebros first introduced piped LPG supply in the city in 2005, it had a tough time convincing people. “Of six blocks, we could launch it in one block. But, soon through word of mouth and the convenience it offered, almost every project we have the reticulated LPG system in place,” says C. Subba Reddy, Managing Director, Ceebros Group.
While the reticulated LPG system offers uninterrupted supply and convenience to households, from the developers' point of view it is a challenge. “It is feasible to offer such a facility for a complex with more than 50 flats,” says Pratish Devadoss, Managing Director, VGN Developers, adding that the company has been offering piped gas in its projects for the last four years.
Size of the project, amount of space available for the cylinder bank and convincing the prospective home buyers are challenges, say builders. Arihant Foundations and Housing is introducing the piped system for the first time in two of its ongoing projects.
The monthly meter reading for Uma Menon, a resident of a 44-flat apartment complex in Pallikarnai, ranges between Rs. 650 and Rs. 690, a little more expensive than the single LPG cylinder, which is priced a little over Rs.350 each, she was used to. But, Ms. Menon is fine. “I don't have the hassle of remembering to refill each time it gets over and so far I have not faced any problem,” says the teacher.
Other oil companies are not as aggressive as BPCL in terms of promoting reticulated LPG. Sources in Indian Oil Corporation add that there are certain issues with regard to the sale of bigger cylinders to domestic households, both from the point of the safety norms and with regard to the subsidy element, that need more clarity.