The Energy and Mineral Resources division has taken an initiative to disconnect all illegal gas connections in the country within Mujib Year.
Prior to the import of high-priced LNG from August 18, 2018, the Energy Division had instructed all distribution companies to declare themselves free from illegal connections. But no company has been able to free itself from illegal connections within the stipulated time. This time the ministry has taken a stringent step to implement the second time directive.
Allegations are there that a section of officials and employees of the distribution companies has allowed illegal connections to continue with illegal money. As a result, the government is being deprived of a huge amount of revenue. The government's revenue loss has multiplied after the import of high priced LNG.
Officials at the gas distribution company say political decision is needed to get rid of illegal gas connections. Otherwise, it is not possible to disconnect the unauthorised gas connections fully. Several times, our officials and employees have been victims of attack in trying to remove illegal connections. Thus, even after the connection was removed, it was seen that it was reinstated. In many cases, the leaders of some political parties are involved in such practice, it is alleged.
A coordination meeting was held recently in the Energy Division, where Jalalabad Gas Transmission and Distribution Company declared itself an illegal-gas-connection-free company in February 2019. At that time, five other companies were instructed to announce themselves illegal-gas-connection-free companies within the ‘Mujib Barsho’.
Out of six state-owned gas distribution companies, Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited (TGTDCL) is selling around 58 per cent of gas. The company is responsible for selling gas in 12 districts including Dhaka.
When contacted, Ali Mohd. Al-Mamun, Managing Director of TGTDCL told Bangladesh Post, "Illegal gas disconnection operations are underway. Upon receiving a complaint, the special team goes to the spot and disconnects as well as imposes fines. This activity is obviously somewhat slow due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, after the Eid, the campaign to disconnect illegal connections will continue in full swing. We are trying our best to disconnect all illegal connections within the “Mujib Barsho”.
However, the audited financial report of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company for the year 2018-19, was approved at its annual financial meeting on December 22 last.
The report shows that the highest systems loss in the last five fiscal years was in 2018-19. This year, the system has lost 1,003.63 million cubic meters of gas, which is 5.71 percent of the total gas purchased by Titas. The value of this gas is at taka 769.85 crore.
However, in the previous financial year (2017-18), the systems loss was 1.17 percent, in 2016-17 it was 1.35 percent, in 2015-16 it was 2.81 percent and in 2014-15 it was 3.90 percent.
Explaining the increase of systems loss, Titas claims that as per order of Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC), actual consumption is considered instead of billed consumption from September 18, 2018 and gas sales in FY 2018-19 are not included as gas sales equivalent to higher heating value, thus the systems loss has increased. In addition, the company is mentioning the issues of leaking gas due to leakage of the line and not calculating correctly when it comes to the distribution line from the transmission line.
However, referring to the BERC order, the auditor company of Titas gas said, acceptable procedural losses on gas delivered by Titas Gas's own line and GTCL's line for gas distributed as per the order are 2 per cent and 2.25 percent respectively. As such, the acceptable systems loss should have been Tk 238.38 crore.
“As a result, the company has incurred a revenue loss of Tk 531.47 crore for the year ending June 30, 2019 due to additional systemic losses. This additional loss of gas / revenue is probably due to illegal use of unaccounted / illegal lines.”
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) recently said that it has identified 22 sources of corruption and irregularities in Titas Gas after receiving various allegations. According to the ACC report, they have received information about a large number of illegal gas connections in Savar, Ashulia, Gazipur, Narsingdi and Narayanganj area. As they have seen, there are more illegal connections in industries than in residences.
However, there is an illegal connection of Karnaphuli gas Distribution Chattogram in the Chattogram region of the country.
The Power Division is working to ensure 100 percent electricity facility across the country in ‘Mujib Barsho’.