G. Krishnakumar

KOCHI: Housewives in the city are enraged over the rise in the price of cooking gas and they blame the oil companies and distributors for creating an “artificial shortage”.

With the delivery period reaching the 30-45 days mark, the wait for a cylinder is getting stretched.

Meena Jayakumar, a schoolteacher, said: “I booked the cylinder on June 12. The gas agency people told me that it will take at least one more week to supply the cylinder. I doubt that they are projecting an artificial shortage while selling cylinders in the black market.”

Agrees Rekha Nair, a marketing executive in a private company here.

“Black marketing of cooking gas is going on in the city in a big way. The menace has gone up especially after the oil companies decided not to issue new connections. Despite big announcements, the authorities have failed to plug the loopholes in the supply system of cooking gas,” Ms. Nair.

Supporting Ms. Nair’s argument, Reshma George, a government employee, alleged that a few LPG distribution agencies and some distribution workers were hand-in-glove in diverting LPG cylinders.

Cylinders often exchange hands directly from the vehicles of gas agencies.

Monitor vehicles

The authorities should carefully monitor the vehicles that proceed from the godowns of gas agencies, she said.

Resmy Gopalan, a freelance writer, said that gas cylinders allotted for domestic consumption are being sold to hotels and restaurants. Consumers are supplied cylinders only after three to four weeks of booking.

Housewives said that gas agencies refuse to supply cylinders to take benefit of the hike.

Priya Benoy, a school teacher, said that the agencies would resume supplies once the rates are hiked.

She also said that distributors provide hundreds of fake connections. This helps them divert the domestic cylinders for commercial purpose, Ms. Benoy said.

Beena George, a computer professional, demanded that gas agencies should desist from forcing consumers to buy gas stoves from the agency while taking new domestic connections.

Committees defunct

Urging the authorities to check black marketing, she pointed out that district-level committees are almost defunct.

“They conduct raids only when the public protests mount. There is no permanent mechanism to control diversion of domestic LPG cylinders. I doubt the officials are also not interested in sustaining the drive,” Ms. George said.