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LAHORE: The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has reproached officials of the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) for their lackadaisical approach towards dealing with cases of gas theft, resulting in weak prosecution, and handling consumers’ complaints.

The regulatory authority has termed this a violation and contempt for the rule of law.

A letter from the Ogra executive director (Complaints) to the SNGPL managing director on Jan 19 says that violation of procedure in dealing with cases of gas theft had been observed often.

“Therefore, regional detection and evaluation committees must ensure observance of all applicable and prescribed procedures, take into account evidence, take cognisance of violations committed by SNGPL officials to avoid inconvenience to aggrieved consumers,” the letter says, adding that consumers should not be condemned unheard.

“Proper right of defence should be provided to all such consumers before imposing any charges,” it says.

The letter states that decisions taken in complaint cases under the statuary powers conferred by the Ogra Ordinance 2002 (either by the designated officer or the authority) are not generally implemented. Complainants have often reported coercive action against them by SNGPL officials. Such coercive actions may be treated as contemptuous as a decision taken under the statuary powers confers legal obligations and should be accorded due sanctity to ensure supremacy of law.

The Ogra director chided SNGPL officials for not providing an interim reply or responding to complaints within the stipulated time of 15 days. The letter says this reflects the “extremely casual attitude” [of SNGPL officials] towards resolving consumers’ complaints. The inordinate delay in response adds to the grievances of consumers, the letter notes.

“Failure to furnish the required response shall hitherto result in ex-parte decisions, the onus of all responsibility inter alia including any financial loss shall lie with the respondent company (SNGPL) due to its inability to defend the case within the requisite timeline.”

It points out that the personnel deputed to attend hearings in the light of Regulation 8 of the Complaint Resolution Procedure Regulations 2003 are usually not familiar with the facts of the case being heard.

The conclusion of such cases would be obvious as the SNGPL officials fail to justify their case due to lack of evidence.

The letter says consumer meter stations (CMS) should unequivocally spell out their findings. The Meter Investigation Report (MIR) is concluded after complete and thorough forensic analysis of the gas meter to establish tampering.

Often the MIRs of domestic meters are vague and found to be relying on possibilities, the letter says, which weakens a case. It advises the SNGPL to ensure that correct information is logged.

“Since the Ogra has to look after interests of all stakeholders on the basis of justice and fair play, the SNGPL management is, once again, requested to address all aforementioned issues,” the letter concludes.

Published in Dawn January 21st, 2017