By Amjad Ali
Multan, Jan 20 (EFE).- Pakistanis in the country’s northwestern region are collecting cooking gas into plastic bags and taking the so-called moving bombs home in a bizarre move that risks their lives.
It is happening in the Karak district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which is potentially rich with natural gas and oil resources.
But the locals cannot get the supplies to their homes in the absence of necessary infrastructure.
People extract natural gas from a main supply line with a hose and then fill it into plastic bags like helium balloons to carry to their homes.
Pakistan’s economy has been hit by the high cost of natural gas and oil, especially after the devastating floods of 2022.
Inflation and living costs have touched new highs, leaving people with fewer options to keep their houses warm or cook food in the harsh winter.
The dangerous and illegal way of collecting what the locals call “bag gases” carries a high risk of anytime explosion.
But the poor families say they are left with no other option due to high cooking gas prices.
“We know these are moving bombs that we carry to our homes, to our children,” Karak resident Gul Hassan told EFE.
Local media reports suggest some people, including women, have suffered burns after gas balloons caught fire. But no deaths have been reported by such explosions.
“It can explode any time and catch fire while we use it but we also don’t want to die hungry or with cold,” Hassan said.
Pakistan is the 21st largest consumer of natural gas in the world.
The country is currently experiencing a severe shortage of natural gas supply because of increase in demand in winter.
According to government data, gas availability is around 1.7 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) with winter demand having risen to around 2.5 bcfd.
In December, over a dozen people were arrested by authorities in Peshawar for their involvement in the illegal trade of the natural gas.
The provincial government says no one would be allowed to continue the illegal trade.
“We have arrested several people over the last weeks and cases have been registered against them,” KPK government spokesperson Mohammad Ali Saif told EFE.
But the situation on the ground tells a different story.
The illegal practice is not only continuing but involving more people by the day.