The Member of Parliament from Nubi-Tangsibji, Nidup Zangpo, during the question- hour session of the National Assembly (NA) held yesterday, asked the Economic Affairs Minister, Norbu Wangchuk, on what is being done for the people in central Bhutan facing acute shortage of cooking gas or Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders.
He said that the long lines of people waiting to get the refilled LPG cylinders and people returning with empty cylinders after having stood for long hours in queues has become a common sight in the country.
In response to the question, Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said that the concern raised is important as people in rural areas are on the suffering end when the people living in urban areas keep more than required number of cylinders with them.
Lyonpo said that the people in urban areas can get the refilled LPG cylinders at the Bhutan Oil Distributors after waiting in long queues, but in rural areas, the people wait for months to get a single refilled cylinder and in some cases people do not even get that.
According to Lyonpo, Bhutan import 50,000 LPG cylinders in a month and in Thimphu alone 500 LPG cylinders are being distributed per day. He said the problems related to inadequate LPG cylinder can be eased, if not solved, provided people keep two cylinders for their consumption, as the ministry has found out that many people keep three to six LPG cylinders per household.
While conducting raids in hotels and restaurants, after receiving complaints of LPG shortage, the ministry has found out that the hoteliers and restaurant owners are found using 20 to 30 domestic LPG cylinders in their commercial establishment.
Lyonpo shared that, as of today, Bhutan’s import limit of LPG cylinder is 700 metric tonnes, out of which 35 percent are expired and found unsafe to use.
Hence, Lyonpo said that 75,000 LPG cylinders are sent for requalification in bottling plants in India and about 600 LPG cylinders per day are re-qualified and made safe to use. Requalification is a method or procedure by which a cylinder is inspected and retested to determine its acceptability for continued service.
However, Lyonpo said that some people are still using the unsafe and expired cylinders even after the ministry has repeatedly requested people to surrender those expired cylinders for requalification.
Lyonpo said that the insufficient of LGP cylinders within the country happens during summers when road are blocked, and also when the plants in India remain closed for Durga puja, Diwali and during strikes.
Further, he added that people living in remote areas, especially in Trashigang, Gasa, Chukha, etc. face acute shortage of refilled LPG cylinders.
Various measures are being put into place by the ministry to ease LPG cylinder shortage, like effective distribution plans, and requesting the Governement of India to increase the LPG supply to Bhutan.
Meanwhile LPG rationing has been further tightened in Thimphu with families restricted to one cylinder per month from the one every 10 days earlier.