Illegal gas line connections and leaks are dangerous, costly in Bangladesh

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
Illegal gas line connections and leaks are dangerous, costly in Bangladesh Titas Gas Authority staffers remove illegal gas line connections in Munshiganj, Bangladesh, Jan. 5, 2024.

Thousands of illegal connections on lines belonging to Bangladesh’s largest gas transmission and distribution company can lead to deadly explosions in Dhaka and other places, including the industrial hub of Narayanganj, officials and analysts said.

The Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Co. Ltd., which supplies 55% of the nation’s total gas requirements, detected over 300,000 illegal connections between July 2022 and June 2023, according to its latest annual report.

The company also detected 385 miles (619 km) of illegal pipelines used to divert natural gas from the main underground pipeline network in Dhaka and five adjacent districts, according to the report. BenarNews has seen a copy of it.

“Illegal connections to households, industrial units and gas stations are rampant. The illegal gas connections are bleeding Titas. These are also causing a financial burden on the people and posing huge security risks,” Mohammed Tamim, professor of petroleum and mineral resources at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), told BenarNews.

“Very often, you will see in the media that gas explosions kill or burn people in Dhaka, Narayanganj and other areas. In most of the cases, illegal connections and leakage in the pipelines cause explosions.” 

Analysts have said the company’s gas waste is double what is considered acceptable because of leaks in the pipeline network.

Authorities blamed a gas leak for a house explosion on Jan. 24 in Shiddhirganj, Narayanganj district. Two family members died and four others were seriously injured.

Fakhar Uddin Ahmed, a deputy assistant director of the fire service and civil defense wing of the home ministry, told BenarNews that incidents of fire and gas explosions were common occurrences in Narayanganj.

“Nobody informed us about the gas explosion in Shiddhirganj. We came to know about it and rushed to the spot. At least six people were burned in the incident,” Ahmed said.

“Illegal gas connections and pipeline leaks are common phenomena in the whole Narayanganj district. We see frequent explosions and gas-related fire incidents in Narayanganj,” he said.


The company’s most recent annual reports listed 311 gas-related fires in 2021-2022, a number reduced to 233 in 2022-2023. Still, people called company hotlines to report 5,796 leaks in 2022-2023, up from 4,891 in the previous year.

Selim Miah, the Titas director of operations, told BenarNews that his company did not have any specific study on the number of gas leaks and illegal connections. 

“Whenever we come to know about the gas leaks, our team immediately gets those leaks repaired. We routinely conduct drives against illegal connections. This is hard to give you current figures of gas leaks and illegal connections,” he said.

Last year, Md. Haronur Rashid Mullah, the company’s managing director, told reporters that Titas took actions against 228 employees for their involvement. Natural gas is used to produce electricity and for cooking.

Mullah said eight were fired and 16 suspended and the licenses of 55 to 60 contractors were cancelled based on the alleged involvement in illegal connections. 

More recently, Mullah told BenarNews that he could not give a specific number of the employees who were terminated over their involvement in illegal gas connections.

“We very often carry out mobile courts against illegal connections. The mobile courts hand down jail terms for the offenders,” he said, without elaborating.

Shamsul Alam, an energy analyst and vice president of Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh, alleged that company employees were complicit with local political cliques and contractors who created the illegal connections to the gas lines.

“A section of the Titas employees and their contractors make holes in the main pipeline and set up alternative illegal pipelines for connections. They know how to make the bores without causing any major leakage. They have the necessary equipment,” he told BenarNews.


BUET’s Tamim said novice technicians sometimes bore into pipelines, causing leaks which could lead to explosions.

“According to Bangladesh standards, 3% system loss is acceptable. But the Titas system loss is nearly 5.5%, almost double,” he said. “A huge volume of gas goes into the atmosphere through the leaks in the old and dilapidated pipeline of Titas.”

“System loss also means that a bigger portion of the unburned gas goes to the environment through the leaks, releasing methane gas which is more dangerous than carbon dioxide,” he said.

In its report, Titas attributed illegal gas connections, an old transmission network, pipeline damage caused by development projects and gas leakage from household customers without meters as the leading causes of the company’s losses.

Titas stated that between July 2020 and June 2021, workers detected 617 illegal gas connections and dismantled 619 km (nearly 385 miles) of pipelines, noting the number of illegal connections stood at 373,049.

During the following 12 months, Titas detected 340 km (211 miles) of illegal gas pipeline containing 274,066 illegal connections, according to the official reports. From July 2022 to June 2023, the company identified nearly 390 km (242 miles) of illegal pipelines containing 327,881 connections.


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