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| Dhaka, Thursday, 18 January 2018

Kawser Azam

The Report

Gas crisis in city

Risky high-capacity regulators being installed for household purpose

2016-02-05 15:51:23
Risky high-capacity regulators being installed for household purpose

The Report

High-capacity regulators meant for commercial buildings are being installed for the household purpose in the city for increasing the pressure of gas. The users are installing such regulators to get rid of the gas supply crunch.

A section of local employees and officers of the Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company are not only involved in abetting the illegal and illogical practice but also encouraging the users to use it. As a result, they are pocketing an extra income.

Usually the regulators used at the head of a riser for the household purpose is less powerful. That means they can withstand the less gas pressure. A less powerful regulator is installed at the end of a riser depending on how many burners are there at a particular household. On the other hand, the regulators used at any commercial building have the capacity to withstand the pressure of gas many times more than that. The regulators used by mills and industries are far more powerful.

At the beginning of this winter the city started experiencing a gas crisis. Over the last two weeks the crisis just intensified. It hit areas like Gulshan, Banani and Dhanmandi and even the parliament building. In most of the city areas there was no cooking by day.

In such a situation the subscribers in different areas of the city turned to the local Titas Gas officers and employees to get rid of the crisis. In collusion with a section of dishonest Titas officials in different areas of the city the users have installed or are installing high-pressure regulators by paying an extra amount of money to increase the pressure of gas.

One Omar Faruk of the technical section of the Titas regional office at Motijheel in the city has installed a regulator meant for a commercial building at a residential building in the Paltan area. Seeking anonymity a resident of that building told The Report, “The gas crisis reached such a level that there had been no cooking at my residence for the last three days. We bought our foods from hotels. The building owner had installed something like a device and then the gas crisis eased. Now the oven is burning well. Tk 15,000 has been paid for installing the regulator. But no money receipt has been given from the Titas against the amount paid for installation of the regulator.”

Posing as a customer this correspondent talked to technician Omar Faruk of the technical section of the Titas Gas’s Motijheel office on phone and informed him of the gas crisis at a residential building. Omar Faruk said he had installed large regulators at many residential buildings in the city’s Motijheel, Paltan, Maghbazar, Banasree and other areas.

When Omar Faruk was informed that at the building resided by this correspondent, there were 12-13 double-burner ovens and later the number of burners doubled. So, the ovens were not burning and that there was a gas crisis in the nearby area also, Omar Faruk said, “Your regulator is small. If a large regulator is installed in place of that, the gas flow will get normal.”

When asked whether it would be required to apply to the Titas authority, he said, “No, no. There is no system like this. Look I’ve installed many big regulators in the city’s Maghbazar area. I’m there, if there is any problem. There is the phone number. I will do everything needed. I’ve to pay my mechanic Tk 500 and the price of the regulator is Tk 8,000. So, the cost totals Tk 8,500. If you agree, I’ll send technicians from my office.”

When asked what type of regulator he would install, Omar Faruk said, “You require a regulator like those used at big hotels and restaurants and gas pumps.”

“Are those for commercial buildings?” He did not answer the question instantly. Then he said, “Yes, the regulators used for the household purpose cannot withstand the pressure, whenever the number of double-burner ovens exceeds four-five. To run the ovens at your building you may need two regulators.” For doing that, he sought Tk 17,000 at the rate of Tk 8,500 each.

The Titas technician also said, “As per demand of the customers I’m installing big regulators in different areas of the city. Many of us are installing big regulators. The gas flow totally stopped in the Banasree area. There these regulators have been installed. In different areas in the city including Bashabo, Maghbazar and Ulan these regulators are being installed, as the gas pressure is low there.”

When asked whether there was any possibility of disconnection of the lines by the Titas authority and any fine because of the use of these illegal regulators, he said, “This is baseless. Nothing like this happened in the past.”

Now in the winter the gas pressure is low. When the pressure would increase after the winter, experts fear that the use of high-pressure regulators may cause explosions. About this he said, “Who told you? There will be no problem with that. This is bogus.”

After taking a picture of the big-size regulators installed at a building at Paltan in the city, this correspondent contacted Titas DGM (public relations) Md Shahjahan Ali to know whether those were meant for commercial buildings or not. On the first day a message was mailed to him seeking to know from the concerned section what type of regulators they were. But he did not respond. The next day he was phoned and again requested for the help. He then advised this correspondent to go to the head office of the Titas Gas at Karwan Bazar. When at his office, he told this correspondent, “I’m actually not an expert. Is there the picture of the regulator emailed to me on your mobile?” When this correspondent answered in the affirmative, he came out of his room taking this correspondent with him. He came across two contractors on the way—one is named Abu Alam Khan. He saw the picture and confirmed that it was a regulator for a commercial building. Another contractor (the name could not be learnt) said, “No. It is perhaps a regulator used for industrial units.”

Then Shahjahan did not allow them to proceed further. He said, “Actually none of us is an expert. The sales and distribution section can tell it better. You can contact the sales section at any local office of the Titas.”

As per his advice, additional general manager Engineer Chitta Ranjan Debnath was contacted at the sales section of the Titas office at Motijheel.

He said, “It is our duty to supply and install new risers and regulators at any residential buildings or any commercial or industrial buildings. Based on applications of the customers we install those with prior approval.”

When he was shown the picture of the regulator and asked whether it was a regulator for any commercial building, he kept looking at it for some time and then said, “We are prohibited to talk to the media. You can talk to Mr Shahjahan at the head office.”

When he was informed that Mr Shahjahan had sent this correspondent to the local office, Chitta Ranjan Debnath expressed his inability to talk about this. Despite several attempts it could not be confirmed by him whether the regulator in the picture was for a commercial building or not. When the public relations officer of the Titas had been phoned from there, it was informed from the other end that the officer was busy doing something in the Managing Director’s room.

After coming out of the additional general manager’s room, the picture was shown to two persons of that section. They said they were sure that it was not a regulator for the household use. It was either for commercial use or for industrial use. Another revenue official at the Motijheel Titas office also echoed them. He then inquired about the location of the area from where the picture was taken. He also advised this correspondent to file a complaint in this connection.

Talking to several contractors of the Titas, it has been learnt that whereas there had been 10-12 double-burner ovens earlier, now the number has increased. So, the old regulators were not withstanding the pressure. If one applies to the Titas office for replacement of the old regulators, it takes a long time. Besides, it costs about a lakh bucks apart from different complexities. So, the customers contact a section of dishonest officers and employees of the Titas for installation of regulators that can withstand the high pressure. In that case the regulators for commercial buildings are also being installed for the household purpose.”

When asked whether there is any machine for increasing the pressure of gas, Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company’s director (operation) Engineer HM Ali Ashraf told The Report on January 26, “I’ve no knowledge that there is any such machine.” Though he was called several times on his mobile phone on Thursday to know details about it, he did not receive the call.

A retired general manager of the Titas told The Report seeking anonymity, “The regulators used for commercial buildings are very powerful. They can withstand the pressure of gas many times more than that of the household regulators. It is illegal to use this type of regulators for the household purpose. Besides, the bills for the regulators for commercial buildings are also far higher than those of the household regulators. Installation of this type of regulators at any residential building is also very risky, because the customers now can use them for increasing the gas pressure as the pressure is low. When the gas flow will get normal after the winter, these regulators at the residential building can pose a threat and any big accident or explosion can take place.”

Ends/ 5, 2016

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