Local lawmakers' followers assault when removing illegal connections: Titas MD

Managing director of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited (TGTDCL) Md Harunur Rashid MullahUNB

Managing director of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited (TGTDCL) Md Harunur Rashid Mullah has alleged that sometimes staff of his organisations have to face assaults from supporters of local lawmakers when they move to take action against illegal gas connections in different areas in Dhaka, Narayanganj and Manikganj, reports UNB.

"But after an attack when we seek cooperation from local lawmakers to do our job, we get it," he said while addressing a press conference at Titas Gas Bhaban in the city on Monday.

Titas Gas has been responsible to distribute natural gas through pipelines across the capital city Dhaka and adjoining districts including Narayanganj, Mymensingh, Manikganj, Tangail, Cumilla with a huge coverage area having 2.8 million consumers.

Mullah informed that Titas has been looking for a financier to implement a Tk 120 billion project to replace the existing old pipelines with new ones to stop leakages.

Top officials of Titas Gas including general managers Md. Emam Uddin Sheikh and Arpana Islam were present on the occasion.

Giving a detailed description on Titas activities against illegal gas connections, the Titas chief executive said his organisation has been conducting operations on a regular basis in its command areas against the illegal gas connections holders.

"From October 2021 to June 2023 we have conducted a total of 28,398 operations at a cost of Tk 64.6 million against illegal connections and bill defaulters. We removed 668.50 km of illegal gas pipeline and 5,20,402 illegal connections," he said.

During this time Titas gas charged Tk 3.12 billion as extra bills and Tk 912.5 million as fines. Of this, Tk 1.47 billion was realised as extra bills and Tk 374.1 million as fines, he noted.

He also informed that Titas gas has remained unpaid bills of total Tk 67.01 billion with public and private entities from October 2021 to May 2023.

Of this, Tk 1.66 billion (4.88 month equivalent) remains uncollected bills from public entities and Tk 50.45 billion (1.97 equivalent months) from private entities.

"We will get unpaid bills mainly from power plants in the public and private sector," the Titas Gas chief said.

"But we cannot go for disconnecting lines considering its sensitivity," he added.

Mullah admitted that a good number of Titas employees are involved in giving illegal connections to consumers alongside the contractors and supporters of local lawmakers.

"We have taken actions against 228 employees for their involvement. Of these, 8 were permanently fired, 16 were suspended," he said licences of 55-60 contractors were cancelled.

Responding to a question, he said Titas has taken a move to introduce a uniformed meter system so that any customer can install meter buying from the open market. "But the system is pending with Petrobangla for final approval," he added.

Harunur Rashid Mullah said a comprehensive study was completed to replace the entire gas pipeline with new ones in Dhaka and Narayanganj to remove 60,000 leakages.

"We will need Tk 12,000 crore to implement the project. were now looking for a financier to implement it," he said.