Opposition, treasury slam govt for gas crisis

Updated 14 Jan 2020

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Fakhar Imam, who was presiding over the National Assembly session, referred the matter to the standing committee concerned. — APP/File
Fakhar Imam, who was presiding over the National Assembly session, referred the matter to the standing committee concerned. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Members of the National Assembly belonging to the opposition as well as the government on Monday blamed the federal government for not meeting the demand of domestic gas consumers across the country, especially in Sindh and Punjab.

The house was told that gas demand was increasing amid current cold weather in the country, whereas fast depleting gas reserves in Sindh will exhaust in two years.

Legislators of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) from Sindh said that under Article 158 of the Constitution they have a right to have adequate gas because Sindh was meeting 70 per cent of gas demand of the whole country. They said they did not need Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), but the natural gas the province was producing.

Minister for Energy Umar Ayub claimed that the government will have to enforce average tariff of natural gas and LNG to solve the problem. It means the cost of gas being consumed at domestic level will further increase from Rs650mmcfd to Rs1,000mmcfd.

Minister tells NA gas reserves in Sindh will exhaust in two years

He assured that the situation in Karachi would ease in two days as the LNG supply to industries had been shut down.

He said the demand of gas was increasing in the country by seven per cent every year whereas previous governments had not done any exploration.

The minister said a committee had been set up to address the issue of release of funds in a weak.

In a calling attention notice, some members from the treasury benches, most of them belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), complained about gas shortage in Punjab and the federal capital.

Chaudhry Shoukat Ali Bhatti said 133 villages in his constituency in Pindi Bhattian had no gas and their dwellers were staging protest on streets. “Why the centre is treating Punjab as a stepchild.”

He said the PTI supporters were complaining that they were facing unprecedented gas shortage under their own government. “The funds allocated for provision of gas for my constituency are not being utilised,” he added.

Sardar Talib Hassan Nakai complained about gas loadshedding and said Rs190 million earmarked for his constituency had lapsed. “I have met Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Minister for Planning Asad Umar and Energy Minister Umar Ayub but they did nothing.”

Imtiaz Ahmed Chaudhry said Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh were facing acute gas shortage and not a single new gas supply scheme had been launched in these provinces during last three years.

“A cabinet committee was formed to address the issue, but nothing happened,” he added.

Fakhar Imam, who was presiding over the National Assembly session, referred the matter to the standing committee concerned.

In a separate calling attention notice, PPP members criticised the government for obtaining 70pc of gas from Sindh and sending it to other parts of the country, including Punjab.

“Our stoves are lying cold, our children are going to school without having breakfast despite the fact that Sindh is the major producer of gas in the country,” PPP leader Abdul Qadir Patel said.

“The federal government is violating the Constitution by depriving Sindh of its share of gas and it has increased its cost manifold,” he added.

When Umar Ayub blamed the PPP government for giving production of the Sui Southern Gas Supply Company to Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd during 2009-13, PPP legislator Rafiullah demanded that a meeting of the Council of Common Interests should be called to address the issue.

PPP leader Dr Mehreen Razzaq Bhutto said if the federal government could not give its due share to Sindh it should first amend the Constitution.

Shagufta Jumani of the PPP asked the speaker to get assurance from the government that the problem would be solved soon.

At this the energy minister said: “Today you are asking for Article 158, but what will you do after two years when there will be no gas in Sindh.”

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2020