By Anjali Singh Deswal-
PATIALA/BARNALA: Shortage of LPG cylinders in this part of the state has forced the residents to stand in long queues for getting their quota of cylinders.
The residents alleged the main reasons for the shortage of the cylinders were their sale in the black maket and use of domestic cylinders at commercial places. The problem has become worse with Diwali approaching, they rued.
Customers were seen making a beeline while waiting for their turn to get cylinders and many customers complained that there were many people who flaunted their 'approach' and jumped the queue, making it worse for people without any ‘approach’.
The present rate of a cylinder in black market is somewhere between Rs 700 to Rs 900 and there are chances of these prices going up during the festive season. People selling cylinders in black do not give any copy and it is not sure if the cylinders are full.
Residents alleged that despite booking a cylinder more than a month ago, they were being forced to return from the gas agency empty-handed for days together. There are chances of a gas mafia operating in the region, people alleged, demanding strict action against the guilty.
On the other hand, teachers of government schools in the state were already short and had much up their sleeves and now will have more to do with the government limiting the number of gas cylinders on subsidy. The teachers can be seen collecting wood, getting back to the days of traditional stoves on which the mid-day meal being provided to the students is now being cooked.
It is difficult to prepare mid-day meal in schools after the Central government ordered limited cylinders on subsidy. The schools are running helter-skelter for arranging cylinders to cook mid-day meal. The agencies have outrightly refused to give cylinders more than the suggested number to school authorities.
Staff members from various schools have stated that the government has not considered the welfare of the students while deciding on the number of cylinder given on subsidy and this is now creating problems to take the mid-day meal scheme ahead. They said even the state government is not showing any concern towards this. For arranging cylinders to cook meals, the teachers are running around every day.
The department gives Rs 3.11 as cooking cost per child, stated a teacher from a primary school. It is not possible to give a nutritious meal in this money to children. It was added that this cost should be increased to Rs seven per child or cylinders should be provided on subsidy to ensure a good meal to children.
Teachers stated that such problems are now becoming common for government schools in the state. Teachers were already surrounded by a number of problems and the shortage of cylinders has now put them in more problems. They said when they talk to higher authorities on this issue, they do not get a satisfactory answer.