Illegal LPG decanting widespread in the city


The district administration has no immediate plan to launch a broad-based crackdown against the illegal business of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) decanting being carried out in the provincial capital.
The illegal decanting business in the city under the shelter of the gas mafia and the powerful LPG dealers union has been under operation since a long time despite the imposition of a ban on such activities by the District Government on the directives of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA).
Hundreds of illegal gas filling shops operating in different residential localities of the city are posing a constant threat to the land and lives of the residents.
There are no proper LPG filling stations in the city and the facility is being provided by decanting traders carrying out their hazardous business in every nook and corner of the city, putting precious lives at risk. Another disgusting aspect of the issue is that the district government badly lacks computerised data on petrol pumps, CNG stations, and LPG stations functioning in the city.
Mainly illegal LPG decanting markets of Lahore include Ravi Road, Shahdara, Badami Bagh, Shad Bagh, Band Road, Shalimar Town, Allama Iqbal Town, Raiwind Road, Baghbanpura and Sabzazar Colony.
The district government declared commercial LPG decanting illegal a long time ago and launched several operations against such stations several times but the permanent solution to this menace has yet to be found.
Some weeks ago, the then District Coordination Officer (DCO) Rizwan Mehboob held a session at the Operations DIG’s Office with a delegation of the All Pakistan LPG Distributors Association, LPG distributors, marketing companies and transporters. They finalised a policy for the city’s LPG business but the illegal practice restarted after several illegal sale points reopened in the city after a few weeks.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Civil Defence District Officer Qari Sher Alam said that he received applications from railway station shopkeepers and a group of residents from city who sought action against the illegal decanting being carried out in their respective areas. He said that he ordered the Civil Defence DDOs of respective areas to take prompt action in this regard. He did, however, admit that there was no immediate plan under consideration to launch an operation against LPG dealers involved in decanting.
He added that the flaws in the relevant laws provided an opportunity to the violators to get bail from the court and then re-start their illegal business anew. He said that in case of decanting, they register a criminal case under the PPC’s section 285 and 286 which is a bail able offense, and thus gives the offenders an opportunity to get released from the court. Moreover, the influential gas mafia is backing these people, he added.
As per the amended LPG Production and Distribution Rules-2001, gas decanting was strictly prohibited. Only auto re-fuelling stations were allowed to sell LPG to automotives. Under the rules, cylinders installed in vehicles and specifically designed for use in automotives would be refilled at auto re-fuelling stations while cylinders for domestic use like cooking purposes could not be filled from these dispensing units.
While the sale of LPG for automotive use from any source other than re-fuelling stations has been disallowed, its use in motorcycles has also been banned on safety grounds. As far as the required re-fuelling area is concerned, the minimum area for installation of a dispensing station must not be less than 10,000 square feet and it must be located away from residential areas and from buildings used for public gatherings.
In the DCO’s meeting with the LPG stakeholders, it was agreed that the district government would register auto-rickshaws using LPG and they would be provided with a quality cylinder of 4 KGs. These cylinders would also be refilled by the company while the common seller of LPG would not allow decanting the cylinders.