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ISLAMABAD: The sudden surge in the theft of gas meters has worried the residents of the twin cities who alleged that the activity was being carried out in connivance with some black sheep in the department concerned.Malik Jamshed, a resident of Burma Town, said when his wife woke up early in the morning there was no gas in the stove. He said first he thought it was loadshedding but later he was astonished to know that his meter had been lifted in the darkness of night.

Mr Jamshed said two more meters were also ripped off from houses in the same locality within a day.

He also complained about police reluctance in registering an FIR against the culprits.

Chaudhry Rasheed, who lives in Khanna Dak, said many people in the area had lost their meters in a quick succession. He said people were now installing steel cages around their meters and locked them to ensure their safety.

“Once a meter is stolen it is a herculean task to get a new one installed to restore the facility,” he remarked.

Hassan Nawaz, a high court lawyer, whose meter was also lifted from his house in Shakrial, said he submitted an application to the nearest police station against the gas administrator of the area and a new meter was fixed within a couple of days.

He said: “An ordinary thief cannot dare to steal and sell a state property because nobody even a rag dealer will be willing to buy it.”

He alleged that the concerned department’s black sheep were involved in the illegal activity who may be reinstalling them for new subscribers in some other areas to make money.

An official of the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) requesting not to be named admitted the possibility of the involvement of some racketeers in the illegal activity from within the department. He said some flaws in the system were encouraging the culprits and earning a bad name for the organisation. These stolen meters may have been reused or reinstalled in some specific areas of the country where a manual ledger system was still in vogue, the official added.

When contacted, officials of Shahzad Town and Khanna police stations said a number of gas theft cases had been registered with them and special teams were hunting for the thieves.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2018