BIRATNAGAR, May 5: Local administration on Thursday raided Nepal Petroleum Trade Links (NPTL) and confiscated more than 20,000 cylinders of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from its premises on charges of flouting existing consumer rule.
According to officials, the seized cylinders belonged to 24 different LPG bottling companies and NPTL had collected them from the market, apparently with the intent of changing their foot and neck ring and supplying those to Dhading-based Sugam Gas Company (SGC).
NPTL and SGC are subsidiaries of same group and their promoter is Shiva Prasad Ghimire, former president of Nepal Petroleum Dealers Association.
“We found some 2,000 cylinders refitted with foot and neck ring marking SGC´s name. There are also thousands of foot and neck ring with SGC´s name engraved in them,” said Sashi Bhusan Yadav, director at Bureau of Standard (BoS), Biratnagar.
Refitting of foot and neck ring, by cutting off original ones, deteriorates pressure bearing capacity of cylinders, raising risks of accident. Besides, if the new rings weighed heavier than original ones, the company can walk away with refilling lesser gas than stipulated 14.2 kgs.
“Both these results render refitting of neck and foot ring a severe crime. Besides, collection of other companies´ cylinders and converting them into SGC´s is anti-competitive practice as well,” said Yadav.
Disappearance of cylinders from the market not only causes substantial financial loss to the companies, but also drags down their market share. Currently, an empty LPG cylinder is sold for Rs 2,000 in the market. Together, the seized cylinders are valued Rs 40 million.
Joint team of District Administration Sunsari, Bureau of Standard, Consumers´ Forum, Department of Cottage and Small industry and LPG Dealers Association had conducted the raid.
The gas dealers had tipped off the anomaly of NPTL after they found sudden disappearance of large number of gas cylinders of almost all companies. Nepal LPG Industries Association (NLPGIA) too had lodged an application at the district administration office for action against NPTL.
“We lodged the application after our dealers proved that our hunch was right. This is biggest wrongdoing found in the LPG business. The government must take strong action against the wrongdoer,” said Sabarmal Agrawal, president of NLPGIA.
Yadav said that the bureau will take strong action against both NPTL and SGC. “Ghimire could face jail term for his illicit action,” he added. NLPGIA has also asked Nepal Oil Corporation to instantly annul LPG import permit of SGC.