The government is getting stricter to prevent illegal gas connections; it has been decided to bring fines as well as criminal cases. Petrobangla has been asked to submit the necessary regulations for this.
Petrobangla Chairman Janendra Nath Sarkar told Barta24.com that Petrobangla is working on the issue. It is in its final stage, will be sent to the Ministry very soon. Petrobangla chairman said in response to the question that what kind of punishment is there, we will inform about this after finalizing it and sending it to the Ministry. I don't want to talk about it right now.
He said, ‘we are working to reduce the overall system loss of gas. One of these is theft; effective measures have been taken to prevent that theft. After illegal disconnection they are asked to follow up again after one month if they are connecting again. If any officials and employees of the distribution company are involved, action has also been ordered against them.’
Janendra Nath Sarkar said, ‘we have divided the zones, now we know how much gas is going to which zone, how much we are getting the bill. DMDs have been told to minimize system losses in their zones. Action will be taken against them if they fail to reduce the system loss.’
Touhidul Islam, General Manager (Vigilance) of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company told Barta24.com that a strict law in this regard is the need of the hour. Re-establishing the connection after invalid disconnection. The operation has to be conducted multiple times in the same area. If this continues, it will be difficult to completely stop gas theft.
In response to a question, he said, ‘we can only disconnect. We have nothing else to do. I run the mobile court, I go with the executive magistrate and he gives fines or punishments. Sometimes fines are given as well as imprisonment.’
Titas Gas Transmission Company General Manager (Metro Dhaka Marketing Division-North) Md. Imam Uddin Sheikh told Barta24.com, if someone steals, there is a law, there is a judiciary and there are many organizations. Neither Petrobangla nor Titas have any power to punish. If the culprit is my customer, I can fine him. The amount of penalty varies from case to case. If someone uses the residence illegally, we can collect a bill equal to one year. But if the user is not a Titas subscriber, we can just cut the line. In some cases, a complaint is made to the police station. An executive magistrate will be required to punish or fine illegal users.
The largest company is Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company and most thefts are also from Titas. Among the 6 gas distribution companies, Titas alone is distributing more than half of the gas, 55.23 percent. Gas theft cannot be prevented even with raids throughout the year. Titas Gas has spent Tk. 6 crore 46 lakh in the illegal disconnection campaign in the last 21 months (October-2021 to June-2023).
The managing director of the company, Engineer Harunur Rashid Mollah said in a press conference recently that 28 thousand 398 operations have been conducted with 330 mobile courts from October 2021 to June 2023. In these operations, 668.50 kilometers of illegal lines, 6 lakh 2 thousand 884 stoves were disconnected due to illegal connections and dues, and a total of 6 lakh 3 thousand 975 connections were disconnected. 250 industrial, 329 commercial 55 captive 10 CNG filling stations have been disconnected due to illegal usage. Additional bills of Tk. 321 crore 81 lakh and fine of Tk. 91 crore 25 lakh have been levied through these operations. Out of this, Tk. 147 crore 80 lakh, 37 crore 41 lakh taka have been collected for additional bills.
He also said that action is being taken against the people of Titas due to the complaint. During my time I have dismissed 8 people, taken action against 228 people including 16 suspended. 91 people have been transferred for punishment. Action has been taken against 50 to 60 contractors. Regarding re-connection after separation, he said, some connection may be needed. But monitoring is being done closely.
Recently, gas supply was stopped in Kamrangichar area of the capital to prevent illegal connections. There was a lot of controversy about shutting the line of legitimate customers. Many times it is seen that the connection is disconnected in the morning and reconnected in the afternoon. Thus a kind of thief-police game is going on between Titas and illegal users.
Titus Gas Managing Director Engineer Harunur Rashid Mollah told Barta24.com that they have conducted many operations regarding illegal connections. The campaign will continue. We are doing public relations, saying that we need your cooperation to prevent theft, people are also becoming aware. Customers have been told that after cutting the line, if the line comes back, the line in that area will be closed. We got very good results. But more stringent laws are needed.