The setting in of the winter season accompanies the gift of natural gas shortage and low gas pressure. Hence, with the setting in of the winter season in general and considerable dip in temperature in particular, the residents of twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been facing low gas pressure especially during morning and evening hours when ovens and heaters are needed to cook food and get warm.
Now a days, people residing in Bhara Kahu, Tramri, Tarlai, Alipur, Barma, Pindorian and Ghauri Town in Islamabad and Saidpur Gate, Waris Khan, Akal Garh, Dhoke Dalal, Karimpura, Committee Chowk, Dhoke Khabba, Dhoke Elahi Buksh, Nadeem Colony, Arya Mohallah, Pirwadhai, Adiala Road, Bakra Mandi, Dhoke Syedan, Tench Bhatta, Sadiqabad, Muslim Town, Shah Khalid Colony, Pindora and Mohallah Raja Sultan in Rawalpindi are facing difficulties due to low gas pressure. Consumers in these areas are either forced to purchase gas cylinders or firewood for cooking alone.
“I am compelled to purchase LPG gas cylinders time and again for cooking which has further burdened me financially owing to price hike,” said Latif Shah, a resident of Kot Hathiyal, Bhara Kaho.
Farooq Khan, a resident of Tarlai Kalan, said that his family could not prepare food at home on time due to low gas pressure which had disturbed their daily routine as well as eating habits.
“Please spend some time with me and see for yourself people carrying small, medium and large gas cylinders to and from decanting shops. In this locality, tandoor walas are charging a high rate for chapatti these days due to gas shortage,” remarked Sheikh Nadeem, a resident of Irfanabad, Tramri.
On the other hand, Afaq Abbasi, a resident of Mohallah Niarian, Jamia Masjid Road, Rawalpindi said that for them gas management had become a routine in winters. My area has been experiencing gas management in the mornings and evening daily, he said.
“Although gas is available in the mornings, evenings and at night the pressure remained low. On the other hand, gas bills are swelling every month. Mostly low income salary group lived in the area and cannot afford purchasing LPG cylinders,” said Saeed Qureshi, a resident of Mohallah Raja Sultan in Rawalpindi.
Robinson Masih, a resident of Dhok Elahi Bakhsh, was of the view that the dwellers were facing the gas shortage with frequent intervals for over two weeks now. He said although LPG was available yet the residents were not in a position to spend on filling cylinders. He said it was strange that the government was not taking the issue seriously.
“It has become hard to make ends meet in the prevailing price hike. We have to pay increased gas bills despite the low or the altogether no pressure. The pressure has forced the residents to adopt old means of fuel such as coal and wood. But the cheapest coal made from wood is available at Rs100 per kilogram in the market,” said Noor Hussain, a resident of Mohallah Sadiqabad.
Similarly, prevailing cold wave and low gas pressure have forced the twin-city residents to turn to alternative fuel sources for everyday tasks. Most people are using wood, coal and LPG; others have installed compressors that suck natural gas to their homes. Seeing the opportunity to profit, sellers have increased the prices of coal, firewood and LPG cylinders.
“It has been a routine for the last one decade that gas is not available in winters and electricity in summer. We have to make alternative arrangements. The government has increased the tariff but failed to improve the supply,” said Shahban Shah, a resident of Muslim Town.
In order to cope with the situation, a majority of the households in the twin cities have started using electric heaters and ovens besides roti makers to manage cooking food for their families considering it difficult to afford buying food from restaurants all the time and digest unhealthy food available at markets.
“I started using LPG cylinder last year in winter to cook food for my family but experienced leakage of flammable gas due to loose valve after which I stopped using it. This year, I bought an electric roti maker but the taste of that roti is altogether different from the one made on gas. Besides, I also try my best to cook food in the midnight when gas pressure turns a bit normal,” said Mrs Gulab Ali, a housewife.
–The writer is a freelance contributor.