Mahbuba Anam, a university teacher living in the Pashchim Khulshi area of Chattogram, used to pay Tk975 as her gas bill. After the arrival of a prepaid meter at her home in 2019, she is now spending only Tk300 for a month's supply of gas.
"Sometimes I leave home for weeks because of work. There are instances when no one was at my home for at least 15 days of a month. But we had to pay the gas bill in full regardless of usage. However, this is no longer the case," she told The Business Standard.
The Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company Ltd (KGDCL) has installed 60,000 prepaid meters in the port city with the goal to curb the wastage of gas. The installation process completed in March 2019.
Both the consumers and the KGDCL are now reaping the benefits of prepaid gas meters.
Sources from the company said that despite a drop in revenue, the KGDCL is saving around nine lakh cubic metres of gas every month since the installation of prepaid meters. The company is preparing to install another two lakh meters due to the success of the previous initiative.
KGDCL's General Manager (Engineering) and Prepaid Meter Project Director Sarwar Hossain said, "A proposal in this regard [two lakh new meters] have been sent to the ministry concerned. Because of the prepaid meters, we are saving around 15-20 cubic metres of gas for every double-burner stove.
"So, around nine lakh cubic metres of gas is being saved every month."
He further said, "Previously, a consumer used around 50 cubic metres of gas per double-burner stove. But now, the usage has dropped to around 35 cubic metres. The monthly bill for 88 cubic metres of gas' base price was Tk975.
"But many did not use such quantity, so the KGDCL used to make more money. After the prepaid meters were installed, consumers are only paying for the gas they use."
Residential consumers have become more aware of their gas usage after getting prepaid meters, and their gas bills have dropped.
"More gas is being saved, as there is no opportunity for wastage through prepaid meters," said Sarwar Hossain.
Another 2 lakh meters on cards
Adding that consumers are eagerly applying for prepaid meters, Sarwar Hossain said, "They [consumers] initially showed disinterest in getting prepaid gas meters. But eventually they understood that it is for their own benefit.
"Due to ongoing demand, we are preparing to install more meters. A proposal in this regard has been sent to the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, with a cost of Tk514 crore. Two lakh prepaid meters will be installed across the port city under this project."
There are around 6 lakh consumers in the residential areas of Chattogram.
In the first phase, a total of 60,000 consumers in 10 zones got prepaid meters. The zones include Nasirabad, Khulshi, Kazir Dewri, Mehedibagh, Sholoshohor, Chandgaon, Chawkbazar, Halishahar and Agrabad.
Consumers use a contactless smart card to recharge balance in their gas meters. Ten recharge centres have been launched for consumers in the port city.