N. Ravi Kumar
CHENNAI: The number of complaints from households about leaks in liquefied petroleum gas cylinders is causing concern to the distributors of national oil marketing companies.
Though defective cylinders, including those underweight and with body leaks, are sent back to the LPG bottling plant, the distributors are worried about the increase in the complaints from domestic consumers when compared to the growth in their customer base. “As against the one or two complaints a day of pin leaks [rubber oring in the cylinder] from households when we had around 5,000 customers a few years ago, we get 7-8 complaints now,” said an Indane distributor servicing 15,000 connections.
A distributor said strengthening measures were necessary considering the change in the customer profile in the recent years. Many of the families in urban slums are unaware of the safety precautions.
Sources among distributors said many of them often found that the number of mechanics was not adequate. But much of the problem, particularly that of cylinders with body leaks, could be addressed if more attention is paid at the bottling plants, they added. A distributor, who on an average gets one load (of a little over 300 cylinders) a day, complained he gets around 300 defective cylinders a month.
Officials of the oil companies, however, have been maintaining that the carousels at the plants were fully automated. The companies have opted to have their own emergency cell to handle cylinder leak complaints from customers after office hours and on holidays.
According to T. Sadagopan, Coordinator, Thandurai Pattabiram Consumer Centre, customers often found it difficult to access the emergency cell numbers.
When they do, they are told to remove the regulator and keep the cylinder in open space and help reaches only the next day.