Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), the principal cooking fuel now in both urban and rural parts of the country, put us in difficult position from time to time. This is because we import the gas, which sometimes, is in short supply from the source.
That a majority of our rural cousins now depend on LPG to cook their meals is a sign of development. It means we have been able to wean our people off their dependence on fuel wood, which is both damaging to the environment and health of the people.
We get close to 800 metric tonnes of LPG from India every month on a subsidised rate. This, which is meant for the people from low-income background, should be enough. But, why the shortage every now and then?
It appears that LPG shortage occurs because those who can afford are the ones who are hoarding the fuel cylinders. It is not uncommon to see at least five LPG cylinders in a house of a top civil servant in Thimphu, for example.
To address the shortage of the gas in the country, over 70,000 non-subsidised gas, which is about 49,300 LPG filled cylinders were made available from February 9 this year. At the heart of the idea was to encourage those who can afford to surrender subsidised fuel cylinders and go for non-subsidised gas so that the fuel is enough for those who cannot afford non-subsidised gas.
In Thimphu, as we report, only 291 non-subsidised LPG cylinders could be sold. And this is almost two months after the initiative was launched. Even as the Ministry of Economic Affairs pleaded with the public, especially with those in the top positions in the political and bureaucratic offices, only 13 subsidised LPG cylinders have been surrendered so far.
Trade officials say that the shift “will take time”. This is not a worthy argument. The office has not done enough to sensitise and educate the public. If it really wants to see a shift, the office could just run through the inventory and pull out subsidised gas cylinders.
We believe that our society is still a caring society. We help each other out by sharing our precious little resources. Or is the day long past?
The greed for Nu 200 more per cylinder is shameful on the part of those who can afford. We will have enough LPG in our houses only when those who can afford go for non-subsidised gas and leave the subsidised for the rural kitchens.