The influential consumers are creating serious obstacles to the drive of Titas Gas against illegal connections and bill defaulters.
According to the Titas Gas sources, the company started a special drive on May 21 against the illegal household gas connections in posh areas of Dhaka city including Gulshan, Baridhara, Banani, Mohakhali and Dhanmondi.
A Titas Gas high official said some powerful persons with political blessings are not extending cooperation to their teams in detecting illegal connections. "When our teams detect any illegal gas connections at their houses and go to disconnect the lines, some powerful persons do not extend cooperation to them to do the job and they even harass the team members," he added.
According to the Titas sources, about 52,000 gas connections in the city are illegal, from which the gas distribution company could realise a substantial amount of money. In addition, nobody knows how much gas they have misused through the illegal connections, a source said.
The Titas official told the FE that in 42 days since the beginning of the drive on May 21, the Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company (TGTDCL) authorities found 1,155 connections illegal, out of a total of 18,619. The members of the special teams disconnected about 181 illegal gas connections and realised Tk 7.34 million as penalty and arrear gas bills for a period of four months.
Earlier, the Titas authorities also conducted similar drive against illegal gas connections among industrial as well as commercial and household users. This has increased the gas distribution company's earnings, bringing its systems loss down.
Titas Gas made a profit of Tk 2.01 billion in fiscal 2005-06 against Tk 1.49 billion of the previous fiscal. The systems loss in July this year stood at 4.89 per cent while it was 8.08 per cent in the previous month of June.
According to the Titas official, the company had put up advertisements in the media asking the illegal consumers to legalise their connections within 75 days. "After the period we launched the drive against those who did not legalise their lines within the period. The drive will continue until August 20," he said.
The official said that when the Titas teams snap the illegal lines in those posh areas, some political leaders close to the government or the opposition parties put pressure on them to reconnect the lines that they have to comply with at times. "Besides, most defence personnel, even the retired ones, never allow the Titas teams to enter their houses to investigate the gas connections whether those are illegal or legal. Some members of their families even harass our teams and do not allow them to enter their houses," he said.
"We cannot take legal action due to lack of proper rules and regulations in the country. If the Gas Act is finalised by the government, we can take tough action against those people," he said.
Titas Gas is also going to launch another special drive against illegal gas connections to the industries in Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Savar from August 20.
Earlier in December last year, the Titas Gas authorities started a drive against the illegal connections and bill defaulters among industrial consumers.