Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Police raids seize illegal cylinders from local eateries; similar raids to be conducted all over the State

GANGTOK, May 28: One big problem that the consumers are facing these days is the non availability of LPG gas cylinders for domestic use in the Capital. The acute shortage of gas cylinders has become a perennial problem, with consumers having to wait for days on end for refills.

One of the main reasons for this acute shortfall could be because of the fact that most hotels and restaurants here have been using domestic gas cylinders instead of commercial ones meant to be used in such establishments.

This illegal practice has come to light with the two raids that were conducted yesterday by the District Collector’s Office and the Food & Civil Supplies Department. Yesterday’s surprise raids on two popular eateries located at MG Marg here revealed just more than unhygienic kitchens-that the use of domestic LPG cylinders in commercials establishments is a common practice.

During the raid at the Quick Bite Fast Food, the inspection team seized a number of domestic cylinders from its premises. It also found that the eatery was running in very unhygienic conditions not conducive to human health. The husband-wife duo, who ran the eatery, were detained by the Police. The husband Sunil Singhal was arrested yesterday and today morning, his wife, Lazzu Singhal, under whose name the restaurant is registered, was also arrested. Both have been sent to the Rongyal Jail under Section 7 of Essential Commodities Act 1957, which is non-bailable section. There has been no arrest from Rasoi Restaurant, which was also raided and sealed. The owner of the restaurants is reportedly in Kolkata.

Speaking to SIKKIM EXPRESS, DIG Range Akshay Sachdeva said that the arrests were made on charges of using domestic cylinders by the restaurant. No commercial establishments like hotels or restaurants are authorized to use domestic LPG cylinders. Cylinders for domestic use come with a special subsidy from the Government of India. 19 kg commercialized cylinders cost Rs 900 whereas a domestic cylinder weighing 14 kg comes for Rs 300.

“This practice had led to a shortfall in the supply of domestic gas cylinders, unnecessarily harassing the consumers. Following this development, we have started conducting surprise checks on restaurants and hotels from yesterday. If we find any commercial establishments using domestic cylinders, we are arrested them and take necessary action against them as per law,” he said.

The Police has already started conducting raids at several eateries in the Capital and also seized a number of domestic cylinders today.

Mr. Sachdeva also revealed that a Police team has been formed consisting of the SP East, ASP East, SDOP and OCs for conducting regular checks of restaurants and hotel in the Gangtok area. “We have already sent the message to all the District Police stations to conduct similar checks on hotels and restaurants and immediately book the guilty,” he said.

He further said that it is also the collective responsibility of the State Trading Corporation of (STCS), also to ensure that such practices do not take place. He has appealed to the public to inform the Police if they have any information on such illegal use of LPG cylinders.

After yesterday’s raids, both Quick Bite and Rasoi Restaurant, which has opened only recently and also found to be functioning under unhygienic conditions, were booked under 133(I) D of CrPC and sealed for further investigations.

Meanwhile, reports of similar Police clampdown on illegal use of domestic cylinders have also come in from other parts of the State. Raids have been conducted in Rangpo, Singtam and Soreng in West District. Domestic cylinders have been seized and further investigations are on, Police sources have revealed.