Over 1,500 industrial units in country use bottled gas
The Department of Explosives (DoE) is set to launch a crackdown soon on the manufacturing units using compressed natural gas (CNG) cylinders illegally, as it bears risks of accident, officials said.
They said the move has been taken to protect the industrial units from possible mishaps like explosion as CNG cylinders are not suitable for industries at all.
The growing industrial use of the bottled gas came to notice of the department following a recent report that a significant number of such units are operating with CNG as an alternative fuel for a severe crisis of piped gas.
According to the DoE, more than 1,500 manufacturing units in sectors like readymade garments, footwear, knit garments, farms, textiles, cement, glass, ceramics and plastic are using CNG cylinders.
Most of the gas-cylinder users are in and around Dhaka, Chittagong, Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Narsingdi, Gazipur, Sirajganj and Tangail.
They took recourse to CNG use in early 2009 when the government stopped giving new gas connection to industries.
It was learnt that such off-beat use of the compressed gas is hampering its supply to genuine customers.
“We are going to launch a crackdown against illegal CNG cylinder users at manufacturing units,” Shamsul Alam, chief inspector at the DoE, told the FE.
He said they had found in recent times a number of manufacturing units running on CNG, which is “absolutely illegal”.
Industry owners are using the CNG cylinders to operate their boilers and generators, posing safety risks, he said, adding that they had several times urged the consumers to use CNG only as motor fuel and asked the filling- station owners not to give this gas to factories.
But both of the consumers and the CNG-station owners are yet to follow the instructions, he said. He made it clear that CNG is allowed only for use in vehicles in Bangladesh.
In recent times, he said, they had sent a letter to the offices of deputy commissioners (DCs) of Dhaka, Chittagong, Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Narsingdi, Gazipur, Sirajganj and Tangail, asking them to take legal action against these illegal CNG-users.
He said use of CNG cylinders in factories is risky as it may cause explosion.
Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said it is true that for lack of new gas connections, a number of manufacturing industries are running with CNG.
He criticised the DoE move for action against the users of CNG cylinder in industrial units. “Industry owners have no alternative but to use CNG cylinders at manufacturing units as they are facing gas crisis,” he said.
Due to use of CNG cylinders at manufacturing units, he claimed, entrepreneurs are spending money six times as fuel cost.
Tariff on natural gas for industrial sector has been fixed at Tk 5.86 per cubic foot but manufacturers are buying CNG for Tk 30 per cubic foot, he said.
Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of the Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB), said: “We aren’t getting gas as per requirements at manufacturing units. As a result, we use CNG as alternative fuel.”
Criticising the move for taking action against CNG-cylinder users in factories, he said the government has yet to restart giving pipeline gas connections to industries.
Petrobangla’s latest data show the country produces around 2,482 million cubic feet of gas per day against the demand for around 3,000 mmcf.
But sector leaders said the actual demand for gas would be much higher than the official figure, arguing that in last five years, several hundred factories, power plants and fertiliser factories have been closed due to gas crisis.
Over 2,500 industrial units are now waiting for new gas connection, they added.
According to DoE statistics, there are 585 CNG stations and 0.32 million CNG-fuelled vehicles running across the country.
Shah Alam Nur