Cooking gas is supplied in Kerala by employing large LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) cylinders. Gas pipeline infrastructure is non-existent making this the only option in the whole of Kerala and most parts of India. The government provides a substantial subsidy (on the way down currently) and distribution is accomplished via gas supply agencies. Applying for a connection at the nearest agency is technically the sole step to obtain subsidized gas connection for one’s house. Although private agencies provide this service in most urban areas of India, at three times the cost, it is not popular as most people find the cost intimidating.
So many half truths swirl around the process of receiving a gas connection. Upon inquiry, we were referred the services of this person who knew the works of getting a connection inside out. The process involved visiting a gas agency known to him although that agency was not authorized to provide service to our area. To counter that ‘inconvenience’, his ready solution was to use our parent’s vacant address which happened to be in that service provider’s area. It also required submitting in writing (stamp paper) that we are renting the place. We weaved out of that arrangement as the procedure was not legitimate and decided to muddle through on our own.
Numerous gas suppliers provide cooking gas cylinders to consumers although the chosen supplier is dependent on the area of residence. Based on reviews for our area, we visited the office of Bharat Gas. The documents required to apply for a gas connection is a proof of identity and proof of address. Voters identification card, passport, driver’s license, PAN card, photo id from the state government, or Aadhar number allotment letter qualifies as proof of identity. Proof of address document can be one of voters identification card, ration card, electricity bill, telephone bill, employers certificate, rent receipt, LIC policy, flat allotment letter, house registration papers, or Aadhar number allotment letter. If the required documents are on hand, the only potential delay with getting a connection is the waiting involved. Waiting lists are dependent on the distributor – the largest provider Indane Gas is known to have the longest such lists and below-par service. Our experience with Bharat Gas was not only painless but also pleasant and we got the connection the same day. We went armed with the two documents required and submitted an application letter. There was a verbal verification process whereby the proprietor gathered personal information such as where we were from, other properties we owned, whether we were renters or owners at this current residence etc. Apparently, these innocuous sounding questions are posed to weed out dishonest customers. We passed their screening and they sanctioned a connection for our house-hold. The total connection bill of Rs 7000 included a double-gas stove, two cylinders, and certain accessories. While opting for just one cylinder can keep the initial payment low, two cylinders are a better option as delivery is not immediate when the first cylinder gets used up. Moreover, the extra cylinder provides a cushion to tide over the times when there are shortages. On the average, last year our waiting periods were only under a week and that is considered as very good service. Refills were around Rs 425/-.
There are ways to counter the disadvantages of cylinders compared to gas connections supplied through pipelines. One glaring issue is storing the cylinders. While they can be accommodated inside the kitchen in close proximity to the gas stoves, there is no evading that they are a fire hazard sitting right inside your kitchen. Further, such an arrangement will obliterate the advantage of having a second cylinder as it is possible for both cylinders to get over around the same time if connected to different stoves. The problems can be offset by housing the gas cylinders in a cage outside and running copper tubes to the stoves in the kitchen. The upfront cost can run upwards of Rs 10K but in our experience this is an investment worth making – the potential fire hazard is eliminated and valuable real-estate is saved inside the kitchen. Also, as only one cylinder is connected to the copper tubing at any given time, that cylinder is completely used up before the other cylinder is plugged in, allowing for a full-cylinder’s worth of time to account for any delivery delays. Newer residential projects go one step further and provide gas reticulation infrastructure.
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