Applicants to get prepaid meter-based connections after 5 long years

Staff Correspondent : After a five-year break, the government has agreed in principle to give new gas connections in favour of the residential/ household users. But the new consumers have to use pipeline gas through prepaid meters, sources concerned said.

Energy Secretary Mahbub Rahman told The Daily Morning Glory that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in principle agreed to issue new connections against some conditions.

But he declined to divulge things in detail. “I will not disclose it right now at this stage prior to finalising the criteria.”

The sources, however, said applicants belonging to four categories will get connected phase by phase. It’s been known that around 34,000 applicants, who have already paid against demand note and have been waiting for gas connections for the last five years, will be considered first.

These applicants will get connections first once the circular to this effect is issued by the Energy Division. After their approval, some thousand applicants, who received demand note from six gas distribution companies, will be considered, the sources informed.

After those comes other applicants who have completed some process, but did not get demand note. And finally, about five to six lac illegal gas users would also get connected upon paying some fine.

Due to the coronavirus-enforced situation, the sources further said, demand for gas connections has marked a slide whereas the government has to import even costlier liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar following an agreement to buy a fixed bulk of LNG from Ras Gas.

The government has been facing huge revenue shortfall during the recent corona-affected months, which is why, the experts as well as the informed sources say, this the right time to collect smart sum of revenue by way of issuing household connections anew.

The government can charge more now to get bigger chunk of revenue, they argued.

Due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic, country’s industrial growth is feared to be less than the rate projected earlier. Hence this is the time to use the unsold and unused gas reserve by the household, they think.

An official of Titas Gas Transmission Company Limited, which supplies nearly 70 per cent gas of this country, said the state-owned gas entity has around 5 to 6 lac illegal gas connections in different areas that force for the government to incur losses amounting to some Tk 45 crore every month.

Meanwhile, the High Court has ordered the government to give gas connections to the applicants who earlier paid government fees upon issuance of demand note. This is yet another development that might have prompted the authorities concerned to issue the connections afresh.

Managing Director of Titas Gas told The Daily Morning Glory that it’s become a moral obligation on part of the authorities concerned to follow suit after a High Court verdict in this regard.

“But so far, I have not received any letter with regard to new household gas connections,” he noted.

Official sources said the Energy Division is working on this issue to figure out the applicants who will get connected.

Energy Division officials met the prime minister on June 25 at her official residence Ganabhaban to talk about some sensitive issues. The issue of household gas connections also came up for discussion during the meeting, wherein the PM ‘agreed’ to reopen domestic gas connections after five long years, they said.

The government in 2015 stopped giving household gas connections following acute gas supply crunch. A good number of applicants by that time had their gas connection fees paid, but did not get the much-expected connection as the process remained shelved following the government directive.

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