Sindh, Centre trade blame over gas shortage in province

Updated December 28, 2019

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Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani speaking to reporters in Islamabad on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV
Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani speaking to reporters in Islamabad on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV

Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani on Saturday said the federal government was responsible for the shortage in gas supply in Sindh, refuting Federal Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan's remarks that the federal government was not allowed to lay a gas pipeline in the province.

Following a visit to the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) headquarters in Karachi yesterday, Ayub said the provincial government had not given SSGCL the "right of way" for a long time, which he said was the fundamental reason compressed natural gas (CNG) shutdowns were taking place in Sindh.

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The federal minister added that work was underway on two pipelines but the Sindh government had not yet given way to a third 125-kilometre pipeline by Parkland.

Speaking to reporters in Islamabad today, Ghani took exception to Ayub's statement, saying the provincial cabinet had received two projects, which the federal government pursued and the Sindh government had gone "out of its way to solve Centre's problem".

Ghani said the federal government had never contacted the provincial government for the project Ayub was referring to. The Sindh information minister went on to claim that matters relating to a third pipeline had never been discussed with the provincial energy minister either.

The blame game

While Ayub had placed "complete responsibility" for the gas shortage on the Sindh government and the PPP government, Ghani said: "We are not getting gas in any department and the blame has been put on the provincial government. The federal government is responsible, this is the job of the federal government."

Ghani said the federal government had complete responsibility of both utility companies — Sui Southern Gas and Sui Northern Gas.

He said that under Article 158 of the Constitution, the province that produces the gas has the first right to it, after which the remaining gas can be distributed to other provinces.

Article 158 states: "Priority of requirements of natural gas.-The Province in which a well-head of natural gas is situated shall have precedence over other parts of Pakistan in meeting the requirements from that well-head, subject to the commitments and obligations as on the commencing day."

The provincial information minister said that despite the fact that Sindh has produced 70 per cent of the country's gas, the province continued to experience gas load shedding and shortages.

"If the people of Sindh are not provided with any gas at all, they will question why, despite producing the most gas, the people of Sindh are not being provided with gas facilities".

"If Omar Ayub dislikes this question, he may do so," Ghani added.

Ayub on Friday had said the Sindh government was not ready to accept liquefied natural gas (LNG) under Article 158 of the Constitution, which he said could improve the gas situation in the province.

He said the provincial government should cooperate with the Centre, adding that he was hopeful that the Sindh government would review its decision, accept LNG and cooperate with the federal government as well as Sui Southern Gas Company Limited officials in providing them right of way and assisting in the laying of pipelines.

Gas shortage in Sindh

The province has been experiencing a gas shortage in recent days.

On Thursday, leaders representing Karachi Industrial Forum and members of different textile bodies criticised the SSGCL over its failure to supply gas to industrial units and warned of protests in case the company failed to restore gas at normal pressure.

The SSGCL, which had announced the opening of CNG stations at 8pm on Thursday, had extended the closure for another 24 hours, till Friday 8pm. The company had informed owners of gas stations on Thursday evening regarding the decrease of gas supply in the system.