Residents of the city's Kamrangrichar area have been suffering after the Titas Gas authority cuts off gas supply there in a bid to prevent illegal connections and recover arrears.
They are in a fix, since there is no clear deadline on when the Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited will restore connections of the legal users.
Titas Gas continued its drive on Wednesday, when a number of illegal gas users were fined Tk 1,50,000 for various irregularities, including use of more burners than they were authorised, officials said.
Visits to the area on Tuesday revealed that the households had to use alternative cooking tools, like earthen oven, cylinder gas and kerosene stoves, despite their higher cost and risk of fire breakout.
Locals said a number of micro and small industries in the area, like bakery and light engineering units, used gas through illegal connections, causing low pressure for legal users. Operations of these industries have been suspended due to the shutdown.
Hanifa Begum, a resident of Jhau Char area, said they started using an earthen oven with woods as fuel instead of gas burner - after the Titas authority had begun the drive.
"You might say we were illegal. But we paid more money than what is required to get a legal connection - to the local political leaders and the Titas employees."
She also said using cylinder gas requires higher cost, that's why they use clay oven for cooking. "Even the cost of per kg fuel wood has gone up, causing serious trouble to us," she added.
Several residents in the area also said prices of cylinder LPG, stove and other cooking tools have increased there.
Ali Akbar, another local in the area, told the FE that the authority cut off gas supply on May 10.
"We're legal customers and got gas connection in 2004. I don't understand why my family and tenants have to suffer due to the Titas authority's move."
He and the tenants in his residential building are now using earthen oven for cooking.
"Cooking with such oven in a residential building is not only troublesome, but also risky," he noted.
Contacted, Public Relation Manager of Titas Gas Mirza Mahbub Hossain said the authority has decided to continue the drive until all the illegal connections are snapped and at least half of the arrear bill is realised.
"Titas Gas has found a large number of illegal connections there, which deprives the company as well as the government of huge revenue collection."
He also said they requested legal users to cooperate with the Titas authority to identify illegal users and restore the utility service soon.
As per available data, the amount of arrear bills in the area is around Tk 840 million, of which only Tk 46.5 million could be recovered until Wednesday.
Titas Gas began the crackdown against illegal connections on May 10 and suspended gas supply in the area.
After several days of break, the state-owned company resumed the drive on Monday.
There are around 12,000 residential, industrial and commercial legal gas connections in the area. However, the total number of illegal connections is said to be five or six times higher than the legal ones.
There were only 105 clients who had no arrears, when the Titas took the strict stance.