Mahanagar Gas under fire from Mumbai consumers

Vol 13, PW 7 (10 Sep 09) Midstream & Downstream

Several thousand customers in Mahim (one of Mumbai’s busiest areas) have been waiting patiently for the last five years for piped cooking gas connections from BG and GAIL joint venture Mahanagar Gas.

Until these supplies start they are dependent on LPG supplied in cylinders, which is much more expensive. Among them are several restaurant owners, who suspect that local LPG cylinder suppliers contracted by BPCL and HPCL are playing mischief.

Every restaurant uses on average two cylinders a day, each containing 19.5-kg of LPG. If piped gas supplies began, this lucrative business would be lost to local BPCL and HPCL suppliers.

Affected customers (who contacted PETROWATCH) are located south of Mahim Causeway, along a 1-km stretch of the bustling Lady Jamsetji Road, one of three main arteries connecting south Mumbai with the northern suburbs. “We submitted an application plus a Rs3000 ($67) deposit to Mahanagar Gas in November 2004,â€‌ says Raju Shetty of Midland Bar and Restaurant.

Shetty expected a piped gas connection for his restaurant soon after MGL began supplying customers in Razak Manzil building, next to his restaurant. But in July 2005, MGL sent him a letter saying: “It is not technically feasible to supply gas to your premisesâ€‌ and refunded the Rs3000 deposit! While Razak Manzil receives MGL piped gas, about 20 other buildings on the same side of the road, for some strange reason, don’t.

These include at least 15 restaurants, a school, a church, shops and other commercial premises, and even several households. But buildings just south of this 1-km stretch do have MGL gas connections! Last year some aggrieved restaurant owners got together and jointly approached MGL to demand piped gas, but to no avail.

One restaurant owner, who did not want to be named, could not understand what technical difficulty MGL could possibly face in supplying gas to his establishment. “MGL doesn’t even have to cross Lady Jamsetji Road,â€‌ he says.

“We’re on the same side as Razak Manzil!â€‌