Alleged composition change in gas and price hike
Astonishing information has surfaced as to how the new changes made to the gas composition in Litro cylinders have made the consumers vulnerable to the possible danger of seeing these cylinders explode
After an in-house battle among members of the top management of the Consumer Affairs Authority during the past few weeks whether or not to take legal action against the arbitrary Litro Gas price hike, all arrangements have been made to file action against Litro Gas Lanka Ltd, the Daily Mirror learns.
Earlier, when this newspaper contacted Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) Director Legal Deepthi Tissera whether the authority (CAA) would go to courts against Litro Gas Lanka Ltd for the price revision, she said that there are no provisions to do so.
However, it is learned that her statement was much debated within the CAA as to why she gave a misleading comment to this newspaper. Few days after Tissera’s controversial claim her deputy- the Assistant Director Legal and Enforcement- Gayani Ranasinghe has informed the higher management by an e-mail (dated May 5, 2021) that legal action can be instituted against Litro Gas Lanka under the provisions of the CAA Act.
The e-mail further states, ‘as explained on May 4 we can file action in a Court of law against M/s Litro Gas Lanka Ltd under the provisions of the CAA Act provided that we conduct a raid on the same. I am sending this e-mail with the concurrence of the Director Legal and Enforcement’.
Astonishing information has now surfaced as to how the new changes made to the gas composition in Litro cylinders have made the consumers vulnerable
Meanwhile astonishing information has now surfaced as to how the new changes made to the gas composition in Litro cylinders have made the consumers vulnerable as the Sri Lanka Standard Institution (SLSI) has received complaints that the valves of some of the gas cylinders are leaking.
“At a meeting held recently with the State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna together with the higher officials of Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) and SLSI the Director General of SLSI Siddika Senaratne is alleged to have informed that the institute (SLSI) had received complaints that the valves of Litro cylinders are leaking. This can be a result of the change in the gas composition,” a highly reliable CAA official told on conditions of anonymity.
An expert in the gas industry told the Daily Mirror that if there were complaints about a leak in the valves it should certainly be due to the change in the gas composition.
Litro Gas Lanka Ltd, in order to increase the prices, claimed that the efficiency of the new 18 litre pack is higher compared to the 12.5kg cylinder.
According to this expert given that Sri Lanka is a tropical country the composition of LP Gas should have a lower percentage of propane and a higher percentage of butane.
“All these years the composition of propane and butane gave a ratio of 20:80 respectively. But recently in order to increase the price of a cylinder, Litro Chairman introduced a new ratio which is approximately 50:50 which is dangerous and the possibility of an explosion occurring exists,” sources said.
Following the meeting the CAA and SLSI officials had with the State Minister Alagiyawanna, CAA Executive Director Thushan Gunawardena has requested CAA Chairman to have a dialogue immediately with the SLSI officials and bring regulations to introduce a standard composition in LP Gas in order to save the lives of the consumers.
The Daily Mirror has details of these official e-mail correspondence between the Executive Director and the Chairman dated June 10, 2021, which had been copied to the President’s Office, Minister Bandula Gunawardena and State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna.
The mail states, ”It is required to immediately work on regulating the LPG composition contained in the domestic cylinder types and the new product that falls under Section 18 of the CAA Act. The Butane & Propane composition should be regulated immediately considering mainly the safety and efficiency factors and further the optimum amount of gas that can be filled vs the capacity of the cylinder as this indirectly increases the carbon footprint of the country due to the number of short filling intervals typically associated with transportation increasing expenses to the country.
”I would expect the CAA to consult Sri Lanka Standards Institution and the State Minister of Cooperatives and Consumer Protection at the earliest to enact a regulation under section 72 of the CAA Act to ensure that gas companies do not risk the lives of the citizen by changing the composition for profiteering, ignoring the possible risk factors of Propane increase in the composition. I am told that SLS has received complaints that the cylinder valves are leaking due to the composition change. This could pose a serious hazard and possible loss of life if this is true. Section 7 (a), the objects of the authority shall be, I quote “to protect consumers against the marketing of goods or the provision of services which are hazardous to life and property of consumers” unquote.
“Therefore, we need to formally engage SLS to publish the required LPG standards as per Sri Lanka Standards Institution Act, No. 6 of 1984 and adopt the standard under Section 12 (2) of the CAA Act and publish a gazette informing adoption of the standard set by SLS without further delay. “If we do not take action to enact new regulations for the LPG sector to adequately scrutinize the manufacturing process we are in contravention of the CAA Act for inaction by virtue as stated in section 12 (1) & (2) of the CAA Act. I would emphasize the fact that the responsibility is with us as the CAA and the State Minister and line Minister to address the deficiencies and act on it immediately due to the risk factors typically associated with LPG composition”. According to the sources, the composition of LPG in other countries is regulated by their respective institutions although in Sri Lanka it seems there is no such regulation. “The composition varies from one country to another due to their respective climate conditions. A Propane rich mixture is used only in cold countries and a Butane rich mixture is suitable for tropical countries. Butane has a higher fuel value than Propane and makes it ideal for domestic use as propane rich mixture carries a risk during handing,” sources added. When the Daily Mirror contacted SLSI Director General Siddika Senaratne to find out as to why the Standard Institute does not introduce regulation on gas composition in a cylinder, she said “Hereafter I won’t talk to the media,” and ended the conversation. The Daily Mirror in its May 17 edition reported on how Litro Gas Lanka Ltd had introduced an expensive 18 litre ‘new pack’ which is Rs.405.50 more than the regular 12.5kg cylinder.
Meanwhile it is learned that CAA Executive Director Thushan Gunawardena had earlier sent an explosive e-mail to the Chairman and Board of Directors stating how the work of the CAA has been paralyzed at the hands of Litro Gas Lanka Ltd Chairman Anil Koswatte by not instituting legal action against the latter.
CAA Executive Director Thushan Gunawardena has requested CAA Chairman to have a dialogue with the SLSI officials and bring regulations to introduce a standard composition in LP Gas
The e-mail dated May 11. 2021, states, “As we all know that Litro has demonstrated scant regarding your order given on 20 April 2021 by not withdrawing the 18L cylinder. This proves yet again that we, the CAA are paralysed at the hands of the likes of Anil Koswatte as he has shown that he stands tall way above the regulator.
‘I therefore respectfully advise you to either institute legal action immediately against Litro as per the CAA Act or get a direction from the Hon. Attorney General on what action that CAA ought to take in the event its directions are ignored. As I firmly believe we are in contravention of the CAA Act and continue to hold these positions and do nothing when injustice has become the order of the day.
Whatever the dogma that the minister is believing doesn’t mean that we have to blindly follow his wishes as you too believe that it’s not incontrovertible and believe in instituting legal action.
“If there is no action taken by 11/06/2021, I would write to the Hon. Attorney General (AG) seeking his intervention to stop the selective application of the law”. Although Gunawardena had said that he will write to the AG by June 11, 2021, if no action is taken, he has copied the same mail to the AG as well as to the President’s Secretary for their perusal.
By letter dated April 28, which was further signed by Director HSE and Quality Assurance, Litro Gas, Jayantha Basnayake, to Director-General Corporative Service, Marketing Development and Consumer Protection U.G. Ratnasiri the Chairman of Litro Gas Ltd Anil Koswatte has stated that the Butane/Propane composition in the 12.5kg cylinder is 80% and 20% respectively and in the new 18 litre pack the composition ratio of Butane/ Propane is 50: 50, hence the LPG in the 18 litre cylinder provides a better efficiency compared to the old regular cylinder. This newspaper is in possession of the two lab reports of Intertek- Caleb Brett Laboratory on the efficiency of LPG in both 12.5kg and 18 litre cylinders. The reports have revealed that Litro has filled both gas cylinders with the same composition, but in order to discourage consumers purchasing 12.5kg cylinder has promoted the 18-liter cylinder.
“Litro cannot increase the price of the 12.5kg pack without CAA approval, but introduced the ‘new pack’ and increased its price claiming that its efficiency is higher than that of the 12.5kg cylinder,” sources added.
According to the first Intertek- Caleb Brett Laboratory report dated April 27, 2021, (Lab Ref No: CBL/448/04/2021 and Sample No: 20212674) certified by Head of Analytical, Intertek laboratory, the liquid volume of Butane / Propane composition of the 12.5kg cylinder is 49.05 and 48.57 respectively. The second report dated April 28, 2021, (Lab Ref: CBL/447/04/2021 and Sample No:20212673) certified by the same officer, the liquid volume of Butane/ Propane composition of the 18 litre cylinder is 51.68 and 47.71 respectively.
Comparing the two lab reports with the Anil Koswatte/Jayantha Basnayake report, it shows how the two Litro officials have distorted the Butane/ Propane composition in the old cylinder to promote the ‘new pack’ at a higher cost.
With the release of the above two reports Koswatte has now come under severe criticism.
“The claim of a Hybrid, high-efficiency cylinder advertised on the Litro Gas Lanka Pvt website as well as in their social media platforms are a clear indication that they are desperately trying to promote the new pack. Moratuwa University too confirmed that there is a negative benefit to the consumers from the ‘new pack’. This was confirmed by State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna recently at a press conference,” reliable CAA sources told the Daily Mirror on condition of anonymity.
The sources meanwhile said that it has now revealed how Litro Gas Lanka Ltd has made the 12.5kg gas cylinder unavailable in the market in order to promote the 18 litre cylinder.
“When 12.5 kg cylinders are unavailable in the market the customers have no other option, but to purchase the 18 litre cylinder for a higher price. The CAA employees are happy how Executive Director Thushan Gunawardena has urged the Legal Division to take immediate legal action against Litro Gas Lanka Ltd for the violation of Section 31 of the CAA Act No: 9 of 2003 by increasing the gas prices without the Authority approval,” sources added.
Chairman of Litro Gas Ltd Anil Koswatte has stated that the Butane/Propane composition in the 12.5kg cylinder is 80% and 20% respectively and in the new 18 litre pack the composition ratio of Butane/ Propane is 50: 50, hence the LPG in the 18 litre cylinder provides a better efficiency compared to the old regular cylinder
The CAA sources meanwhile said how alarming it is that Litro Gas Lanka Ltd has already started distributing the said product by filling the existing domestic cylinder making the regular 12.5kg cylinder unavailable.
“Litro Gas is misleading the consumer by refilling the existing 12.5kg domestic cylinder and erasing the tare weight. How can an average consumer know the actual stipulated litres of gas inside once the tare weight is obliterated? If it’s an introductory product why are they filling the same cylinder and the colour of the cylinder remains the same?,” sources alleged.
A message was left together with the contact number of this newspaper with the Secretary to the Manager Brand Development Litro Gas Lanka Ltd Ketheeswaran to find out as to why they use 12.5kg cylinders in the sale of the 18 litre pack, but he did not return the call. A text message was also sent to Ketheeswaran seeking a comment to which he did not respond until this edition went into press.
According to the sources the CAA a few days ago have raided a Litro gas distributor in Pamankada and found out that the available 12.5kg cylinders do not carry the fixed weight.
“The tare weight and the gas weight in 12.5kg cylinder should be above 25kg. But during this raid, we got to know that Litro has filled less gas to the 12.5kg cylinders. We request consumers to weigh their cylinder before purchasing them from dealers. The dealers may say that they do not have a weighing scale, but the consumers should insist, as the distributors should possess a weighing scale, if not they can immediately inform the CAA so that we can raid such distributors. We can take legal action against the distributors as well,” sources added.
Comparing the two lab reports with the Anil Koswatte/Jayantha Basnayake report, it shows how the two Litro officials have distorted the Butane/ Propane composition in the old cylinder to promote the ‘new pack’ at a higher cost