Pakistan: Cooking Gas in Plastic Bags?

Economic crisis & high unemployment facing people of Pakistan initiated a unique and highly dangerous way to bring cooking gas to their homes and risk their lives every day. Find what it is?

In Pakistan's north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a video from 2023 has surfaced showing people carrying cooking gas in plastic bags. This unusual and dangerous practice is a result of Pakistan's severe economic crisis and high unemployment, making it hard for citizens to afford basic necessities like cooking gas and oil.

People use large, durable plastic bags with valves and nozzles to fill them with cooking gas illegally. They go to local shops connected to gas plants, reserves, or pipelines and have the bags filled through compressors. The process can take 25 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the bag size. Once filled, the bags are sealed and transported home, either carried like a low-flying balloon or tied to scooters and motorcycles.

At home, people use simple electric pumps and plastic pipes to transfer the gas to their stoves. They often hang the gas-filled bags on kitchen walls using ropes and nails. These gas-filled bags cost between 500-900 Pakistani Rupees, while the pumps cost 1,500-2,000 Rupees. In comparison, a gas cylinder costs over 10,000 Rupees.

This practice is not only illegal but also extremely dangerous. Plastic bags are not designed to store pressurized gas and can easily leak or rupture, releasing highly flammable gas into the air. The risk of explosion is high at every step, from filling the bags to using the gas at home. A gas leak can cause severe injuries, major fires, and even death, making cooking a daily gamble for many Pakistanis.

Many people have been arrested in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for this illegal activity. In Peshawar city, officials have arrested dozens of shopkeepers for selling gas-filled bags. Due to police intervention, the bag gas trade has gone underground. Shopkeepers now only sell to trusted customers, usually at night, to avoid fines and arrests.

This dangerous practice highlights the desperate measures people are taking to cope with Pakistan's ongoing economic crisis.