India: glass makers protest at gas restrictions

The decision by gas supplier GAIL (India) Ltd. to install “governors” on compressed natural gas (CNG) lines in order to reduce consumption has had severe repercussions on the glass industry in Firozab…

The decision by gas supplier GAIL (India) Ltd. to install “governors” on compressed natural gas (CNG) lines in order to reduce consumption has had severe repercussions on the glass industry in Firozabad, near Agra (Uttar Pradesh). More than 100 glassworks in the town were shut on 21 October 2005 in protest at the move. Bal Krishna Gupta, former president of the All Indian Glass Federation, and managing director of Advance Group of Glass Industries, Firozabad, said the glassworks in Firozabad were among the highest users of gas in the Agra division, despite being permitted to use coal. Gupta said the GAIL authorities had been asking glass units to reduce the pressure of gas, citing the failure of their LNG plant as a reason. He said that according to the contract with GAIL, the glassworks were allowed to make a one-time increase in their gas consumption during the day, which was billable on LNG rates, as agreed by GAIL. Now, with the festival season beginning, demand for glass jewelry was in full swing, and at a time when glassworks were thinking of increasing production, they were being forcibly asked by GAIL to reduce their gas consumption. Gupta said “governors” had been installed by GAIL in a few Firozabad glassworks and more were in the process of being installed. According to Gupta, the loss to glassmakers had been estimated at INR 80-100 million in two days due to a reduction in gas pressure in the midst of production, which spoiled the raw glass. He said there were more than 100 glassworks in Firozabad using between 4,000 and 25,000 standard cubic metres per day (SCMD) of CNG, while the five units in his group were the largest consumers of gas in the town, using about 100,000 SCMD gas and were the worst-affected among the Firozabad units. Gupta criticized GAIL for not showing the “professional courtesy” of informing the industry before reducing gas pressure. He said the town“s glassworks remained closed on 21 October 2005 in protest and glassworks operators had sought a meeting with the general manager of GAIL to present their case before continuing the use of gas in their units.