Recently Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) price hike is a big push to the middle class and lower middle class in Bangladesh. This LPG is the by-product of petroleum. Since nineties of last century LPG is getting popular in the households in Bangladesh day by day. At present in Dhaka city huge numbers of people are using LPG. Though a decade back LPG was not that much popular as the city dwellers were habituated with natural gas supplied through pipelines. In late nineties of the last century the then government decided to discourage the volume of natural gas uses through pipelines in the households. The future and potentiality of new gas fields in the onshore area started reducing. And there was no break-through of new gas fields discovery and exploration. But the demand of natural gas in the industrial use is increasing manifold and as well as the use of CNG is also increasing in the transport sector. We all know the economy of Bangladesh is getting bigger day by day and the rate of growth attracts attention of many countries and international organizations. For the shortages of natural gas production in country government has to arrange natural gas Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) import from the Gulf States. For that reason a floating LNG terminal has been operating at Moheshkhali area of Cox's Bazar.
The people of Dhaka, Chattogram and other big cities are habituated in pipe line gas. But over the years and shortage of pipe line gas government is encouraging use of LPG. As the new connection of pipe line gas supply is stopped now people have to be bound to introduce LPG in their household. But a big disparity raises here. There is a big gap prevailed between the price of 2 burners pipe line gas and LPG. Within 950/- taka a family can cook all their cooking items in a month. But the families using LPG need at least two cylinders of 12 kg bottle in a moth to cook their cooking purpose for the same time. So there Prevails a gap of 3 to 4 hundred taka and this is not a little burden for the families using LPG. Moreover, in every month they have to replace empty cylinders. This is also a hassle for them. Last month government suddenly took decision to increase the price of LPG. Before that the price of LPG cylinder in open market was less than taka 1000/- for many days. The sudden push of this price hike startled the middle class and lower middle class people who are the user of LPG. Now in every month they have to spend another 6 to 8 hundred taka for two bottles of 12 kg cylinders. This by any consideration is a big taxation to the people using LPG.
In this situation what are the necessities government can do is a matter of discussion. Primarily government can think of to strike a balance between the price of LPG and pipeline natural gas. The people who use pipe line natural gas are in very much advantageous position. Many of them not only cook their food items only but huge number of people use this gas to dry up their wet cloths as an alternative to getting little sunlight in their households in Dhaka and Chattogram. It is now an open secret and everybody knows this. This is mainly practicing in densely populated area in Dhaka and Chattogram where sunlight are not sufficient for design of the houses not conforming to the ideal healthy situation. The dwellers of these houses are used to complete all such type of work within 950/- taka only in a month. Even some of them do not switch off the knob of the burners to make little use of match boxes. This sort of practice is highly alarming and anytime accident can occur. So we should all be careful about this practice and prepare ourselves not to follow such type of practice. Indeed, the LPG users are much careful and conservative in this matter. They try to use less gas for their cooking but they are spending much money for their cooking and the amount is of almost double to the two burners' pipe line natural gas users. This is one kind of disparity prevails in our country. It is such a situation that those who are sufferers feel ignored by the state. This situation should be changed and government should try to take such initiative which can ease the mind of the LPG users. It is assumed that the use of LPG will increase manifold in forthcoming days. With the speedy growth and rapid economic growth in the villages people are being gradually habituated in LPG uses in rural areas. Shifting to the LPG from the traditional sources of fuel such as fire-wood and traditional earth-made hearth is being happened gradually in the rural areas too and it is also complementary to the low carbon emission, environment and ecology. So the common picture of energy/fuel use in cooking by three ways in our country. The luckier persons are the users of pipe line natural gas spending less amount of money. The other group (mostly in rural areas) depends on traditional dry fire-woods emitting heavy carbon in the atmosphere and it is injurious to the green environment. The unluckier are the users of LPG. The price of LPG is fluctuating round the year and sometimes it goes too high that it becomes unbearable to the users.
To minimize this heavy taxation and for adjustment the price between LPG and pipeline natural gas government can take steps to ease the pains the LPG users. The most notable step is to make an adjustment between the price of LPG and pipeline natural gas. It is very much unfortunate that in a independent country a group of people are taking advantages of the system whereas a large number of people in many towns and vast rural areas are being deprived for indefinite time. So government could raise the price of pipeline natural gas for adjustment and minimizing the high price of LPG. And with this extra money (from pipeline gas users) could be transformed as subsidy to the LPG price. In this way government can try to make parity to the people of all areas of the country. The policymakers and high-ups of the government can address this serious burning issue of the country.
Author is a Former Civil Servant and Freelancer.
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