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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has directed the federal government and the Sui Southern Gas Company to file their respective comments on a constitutional petition against curtailing gas supply to the province below its demand.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Munib Akhtar had on Thursday put the federal government’s law officer on notice and adjourned the hearing to May 23.

The petition was filed by the chairman of the district council Umerkot, Syed Noor Ali Shah, who impleaded the federal government through petroleum and natural resources secretary, SSGC and provincial secretary of the energy department. The petitioner was represented by barrister Faizan Hussain Memon.

He said that the province was blessed with huge reserves of natural resources, including but not limited to, oil and natural gas.

The petitioner stated that it was a matter of record that the production quantity of gas of the province was in excess of its consumption. Precisely, he said, the province produced more than 70 per cent of the gas produced in the whole country, whereas it consumed less than 40pc of its production capacity.

He said that the people of the province suffer immensely on account of shortage of supply of gas to its consumers, be they domestic or commercial consumers, or fertiliser or industrial sector, power plants or general industrial and CNG sectors, etc.

The petitioner said that the federal government and the gas utility had failed to meet the gas demand of the province, especially in districts like Matiari, Tando Mohammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Benazirabad, Naushahro Feroze, Kashmore-Kandhkot, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Thatta, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot and Tharparkar, despite the fact that the province of Sindh produces gas in excess of its consumption.

He said their failure to provide gas to the province as per its needs was in violation of the constitutional guarantees afforded to the people and residents of the province under Article 158 of the Constitution and dictums consistently laid down by the courts.

He pointed out that the court time and again held that in view of Article 158, a province in which a wellhead of natural gas is situated shall have priority and precedence over other parts of the country in meeting its requirements from that wellhead.

He said that more than 70pc of gas produced by Sindh is transferred to the federal government, whereas the demand of the province itself is not met, in clear derogation of the scheme of the Constitution and directions of the court to adhere to the provisions of Article 158.

He said the issue recently came to light when the Pakistan Peoples Party displayed its annoyance over non-allocation of gas to the province at par with its demand.

As a direct consequence thereof, the petitioner said, various districts and cities suffer power outages of almost 16 hours a day amid soaring temperatures.

He said that the province must be given precedence over and above other parts of Pakistan so far as the supply of gas from wellheads situated in the province are concerned, but the respondents are depriving the residents of Sindh from their legal and constitutional right.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2017

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