TWO-THIRDS of families in the New Territories northwest, forced to endure the worst gas disruption in years, will today be able to cook meals and heat water supplies. Towngas general manager (engineering) James Kwan Yuk-choi said more than 200 technicians had worked around the clock on the damaged gas mains. Mr Kwan said about 40,000 residents, mainly in Tin Shui Wai and Tuen Mun, were due to receive gas again from 6 am today, but the remaining one-third might have to wait another day or two. Towngas has warned residents not to turn on stoves, heaters and other gas appliances until they have been checked by its technicians. Some residents claim that the government policy of allowing Towngas exclusive rights to supply fuel to public estates leads to chaos when gas cuts occur. They say Towngas has no contingency plan for such situations. Meanwhile, the Government has promised to crack down on careless contractors. Companies damaging underground gas mains will face fines of as much as $25,000 and a possible jail term of six months under a law to be tabled in February. Towngas also warned it would sue contractors to get compensation money if negligence could be established. Between January and October, 500 cases of gas leakage were reported. Towngas revealed that 130 cases came about through damages resulting from roadworks or erosion. Supply of gas to the 66,000 households in the northwest New Territories was cut on Sunday morning after a gas main in Yuen Long was punctured by roadworkers. In Tin Shui Wai, some shopkeepers took advantage of the gas cut to increase prices for canisters of liquified petroleum gas. A pack of three canisters, originally priced at $28, had been bumped up to $32.