Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company recently conducted a baseline survey in its distribution areas and found that 35,000 gas risers out of 5.65 lakh (around 6.2%) were leaky.
Currently, the company has around 28.66 lakh consumers who are connected to 12 lakh gas risers.
A riser is a length of vertically oriented piping used to deliver fluid, gas, or electrical signals or power upward.
Some officials of the company, on condition of anonymity, said the situation of leakage in gas pipelines is more severe.
Due to poor quality of equipment and unplanned underground installations, pipelines have huge leakages, they said.
Ali Mohd Al-Mamun, managing director of Titas Gas, said the company does not have exact data on leakage in gas distribution lines.
Titas Gas distribution lines have become a death trap for city dwellers due to leakages. A recent accident in Narayanganj that killed 28 people panicked the people more.
According to the fire department, around 30% of fire accidents in the capital are happening due to gas pipeline leaks.
Its data showed gas leakage was responsible for about 1,000 small and large fire accidents last year.
However, Titas Gas claimed there were only 208 fire accidents in 2018-2019 against a total of 5,876 gas leakages in its distribution areas.
Illegal gas connections cause leakage
In April 2009, the government stopped giving fresh gas connections to domestic units. This prohibition was lifted for a year in 2013. The following year, the energy division again stopped giving new domestic connections.
Despite a long pause in giving new household connections, the number of such connections has been increasing gradually due to illegal connections.
In 2014-2015, the number of domestic consumers was 1,897,317. However, at the end of 2018-2019, it rose to 2,846,419.
There were instances that some employees of the company in association with local influential groups had repeatedly restored severed illegal connections.
Our Gazipur correspondent reported that the city has the highest number of illegal gas connections, especially in Kashimpur, Konabari and Tongi areas.
Locals claimed those arranging illegal connections describe themselves as contractors and charge Tk30,000-100,000 for each new connection. They also take money in the name of bills every month.
Iqbal Hossain, a resident of Sardaganj in Kashimpur, said, "I got an illegal gas connection two years ago on the assurance that it would be made legal. But it is still illegal."
"Now, in the name of bill, contractors take Tk5,000-10,000 per month."
Rajib Kumar Saha, deputy general manager of Titas Gas, said these illegal connections are the main reason for pipeline leakages.
"We use quality products for our consumers in case of giving legal connections. But the quality is not maintained when customers take illegal connections," he said.
"The pipes they use contain welding leaks and other various types of leaks. As a result, they are always at risk, which could lead to a major accident any time," he added.
Initiatives to repair leaks
Titas Gas has a 13,138km pipeline network in Dhaka, Gazipur and Mymensingh. Some pipelines have huge leakages due to lack of repair.
The company has undertaken a project worth Tk1,277 crore to replace the very old pipelines in 60 areas of Dhaka. Under the project, 892 kilometres of old pipelines in different parts of the city will be replaced.
But the project is yet to see the light of day.
The Titas Gas managing director said, "The project has been amended and approved by the Titas board. It will be sent to Petrobangla again for approval soon."
Titas Gas officials said they repair damaged gas lines regularly whenever they receive a complaint.