ISLAMABAD - Right under the nose of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority and Ministry of Petroleum, the liquefied petroleum gas mafia continues to fleece public with exorbitant prices while the concerned authorities kept busy doing other important tasks.

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) was sold up to Rs240 per kilogram in different parts of twin cities, whereas in suburbs of capital, hardly 20 minutes drive away from Constitution Avenue, the prices are as high as Rs 250 per kg.

There is no gas supply in pipelines, we cannot burn woods to cook meal in this congested area of the city, and we have no option but to buy LPG, and it is hard to find. If it is available somewhere, the sellers are asking exorbitant prices, when one complains they rudely tell him to go away, what can one do, said Khalid Mirza, a resident of Dhok Kala Khan, Rawalpindi.

In different areas of twin cities, Chungi No 22 area, Bakra Mandi, Dhoke Syedian, Saddar, Raja Bazar and areas of Cantonment board, Barakahu, Bannigala, Tramri, residential colonies on Islamabad highway, including Ghouri Town, Media Town; the poor man’s gas was being sold between Rs 180-240 per kg. In my area, gas is being sold at Rs 240. I tried to locate the dealer, I visited Tramri Chowk, Faizabad, so that I could buy at official rate, but rates are the same every where, no shopkeeper or dealer bothered to display rates, and they insult if someone tell them they were overcharging, said Zulfiqar Khan, a resident of Ghouri Town told.

LPG Distribution Association Pakistan associate secretary Arsalan Khokar admitted that the rates were up to Rs 240 in twin cities and other parts of Punjab.

It is marketing companies who are the real culprit, the dealers simply charge Rs15 per kg, the marketing companies are supplying at Rs160 in twin cities, Khokar said. He said that the prices in Lahore swelled after Punjab government started a crack down on over charging dealers and sellers.

After the action of District government the sellers have closed their shops, only those who are paying bribe to area Police station and District management are doing the business and they openly ask for Rs. 240 per kg, he said.

Oil and Gas regulatory Authority seems helpless in controlling overcharging. They failed to implement pricing in suburbs of the capital, just some kilometers away from the head office, what is the use of the authority. Spokesperson Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority said that the authority is taking action against the companies and anyone found of overcharging would be fined up to Rs 250,000. He said authority has written to provincial chief secretaries to check LPG over pricing.

Ministry of Petroleum officials showed their helplessness and said they could only intervene if prices are de-regulated.