Jhilpar slum runs on illegal gas, power lines posing huge risk

Sheikh Jahangir Alam
Published : 00:24, Aug 23, 2019 | Updated : 15:29, Aug 23, 2019

The Jhilpar slum in Mirpur is around four decades old, providing residence to people from low income families. Every year, the number of homes is increased by filling up the water body. More home means more income for the influential.
Under political patronage, illicit activities like drugs, unlawful gas and water connections are given. It’s believed that the monthly earning from the second biggest slum in the city is more than a few million.
During a visit on Tuesday (Aug 20), several shanties were seen made of tin and bamboo. Gas lines are given with plastic pipes which are often cracked.
The gas lines are all illegal, say residents. One resident says: “The connections were given by a person called Dulal Hossain who had links with local influential.”
One resident, whose two room shack in the slum was gutted, says: “I used to stay here with four sons and the cost of gas and power was Tk 2000; but a gas explosion in another shack resulted in a fire which spread fast and burnt many homes. Now we have lost everything and ask the government to make arrangements for us to stay here.”
The gas supplier, Dulal, used to collect Tk 5.5 million as gas bills from the shack owners; one stove: Tk 500, two Tk 1000, one light: Tk 100, for TV, Tk 500 and Tk 1000 for fridge.
Councilor of Mirpur 6, Haji Rajjab Hossain claims he has no relation with the illegal gas, power connections. He says: “we know of illegal lines but did not know the usage of plastic pipes to supply gas; the people who give illegal connections do not work for me.”
Commenting on illegal gas lines, director (operations) of Titas Gas, Md Kamruzzaman Khan, said: “I do not know anything about this; the MD will be able to comment on the matter. But we have disconnected illegal lines many times.”
A probe committee has been formed over the illegal gas lines in the slum and work is underway to identity the culprits, he added.
“Legal action will be taken against any Titas personnel found to be involved in this.”
MD of DESCO, brigadier general (retd) Md Shahid Sarwar, said: “From DESCO, poll metres have been placed at the sum and people can take lines from them and get power; we also cut off illegal power lines as part of our routine work.”