Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Gas-trick juice
I think it’s time I invested in one of those solar thingamajigs... you know the ones that cook your food and keep it warm and stuff. My visit to the local gas dealer’s office yesterday was enough to convince me that it won’t be long before we run out of fossil fuels. I had to wait a good 10 minutes before this chappie, who was doing the bookings, even deigned to look at me. I don’t blame the poor sod. He was being inundated with calls from hapless customers like me, who probably had been threatened/cajoled/harangued by their wives/significant others/live-in girlfriends into fulfilling this hunters-gatherers duty. Within a span of 10 minutes, he must have disposed off 10 such calls, which means a demand for 60 more LPG cylinders every hour. Multiply it by 8 for the number of hours they work in a day (oops, you have to subtract 1, for it’s the lunch hour. And there can be nothing more sacrosanct than this in a government undertaking in India.) Anyway 60 LPG cylinders x 6 days means 420 a week. Mind you, this is the figure for Mayur Vihar Phase I alone. Also, it does not include the numerous unregistered connections. Anyone can get a cylinder by paying a premium of about Rs 20 above the Rs 261 you normally shell out. A rough estimate would easily put the weekly demand for LPG cylinders in and around Mayur Vihar at above 1,000. And the fact that these numbers are not cold statistics became evident when I went to the local Acharya Niketan market and couldn’t help but notice that almost everyone, from the local dhabawallah to the Agarwal Sweets fellow was using LPG as their prime source of fuel. Guess what, that’s not all, I had gone to the market for the express purpose of getting my chhota cylinder, a remnant of my bachelor days in Mukherjee Nagar, filled. (Comes in handy when you get back home at 1 am and find you can’t heat your TV dinner because the normal 14.2 kg domestic cylinder has run out.) If you start adding the number of the chhota cylinders… I am not even trying... you will get an idea of what the situation is like. And this is only Mayur Vihar I am talking about.
If you are reading the business dailies, you will know that this is precisely why the government is running up a sweat seeing crude oil prices heat up. (LPG is a byproduct when crude oil is refined). And global crude prices have been hovering around $50 a barrel — high enough to blow a big hole not only in the economies of many a country but your pocket as well, because the government will not be able to keep cooking fuel prices artificially depressed for too long.
So, unless you want fuel prices to set your posteriors on fire, click on this site now. I ain’t gassing you know!

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