Gas shortages force clay stoves back to Dhaka

Mounting shortage of cooking gas over the past two weeks has forced many in Dhaka to turn to traditional ‘chulhas’ or clay stoves.

The well-off can afford to buy LPG cylinders, but lower-income households find them too expensive and are turning to clay stoves.

Madhu Khan, a resident at Dhaka’s Agargaon, has just made a stove from clay he bought in Mirpur.

The double-burner gas stove in his kitchen barely flickers. A pot of water is being heated and freshly cut vegetables wait to be cooked.

“The water was placed on the stove at 8am; it’s 1 pm now, but it is not hot enough to cook,” said Madhu Khan.

“How long can we manage like this! The cylinder is too expensive and will drive up household expenses, but this is not really working,” he said, exasperated.

Gas shortages were also found in Mirpur’s Shaoraparha, Kaziparha, Kafrul, Paschim Agargaon, Mohammadpur, Adabpur, Dhanmondi, Tollabagh, Uttara, Old Dhaka’s Taantibazar, Shankharibazar, and other areas of the capital.

Some areas are not supplied with gas throughout the day. Other places receive some gas, but not enough for cooking.

Agargaon resident Kulsum Akhtar Simi says her family has had to eat out quite often because of the gas shortage.

“I had cooked last night, but the rice ran out during the day,” she said. “We had to buy rice from a local restaurant.”

According to Mirpur residents, gas supply problems in the past fifteen days have almost led to a crisis.

Homemaker Sultana Begum says she was unable to feed her children until the afternoon, because there was no gas.

“A small amount of gas is available after 12am,” she says “If I cook then, when will I sleep?”

Uttara resident Farzana Chowdhury says even when the gas is available, the low intensity has hindered her cooking.
“The heat is so low I can’t boil water for tea,” she said. “It took me two hours to cook fish. I had to begin cooking right after the Fazr prayers.”

Gas providers Titas Gas Co Ltd say there is not enough gas to meet the current demand in the capital, a situation made worse by winter weather.

Titas Director (Operations) HM Ali Ashraf told that Dhaka’s daily demand for gas is 350 million cubic feet, but less than 300 million cubic feet is supplied.

“As temperatures fall in the winter, people use more gas to heat up water so the demand is high,” he said. “The fertilizer factories and power plants are also running, and they use up a lot of gas. Together this demand has led to a shortage.”

The Titas Gas official could not say if, or when the shortage would be tackled.

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