Sindh CM complains to PM about short supply of gas

Published December 29, 2020
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah (left) demanded that Prime Minister Imran Khan direct the petroleum division of the federal energy ministry to immediately allocate at least 1,500 to 1,600 MMCFD (million cubic feet a day) gas to the province. — Photos DawnNewsTV/File
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah (left) demanded that Prime Minister Imran Khan direct the petroleum division of the federal energy ministry to immediately allocate at least 1,500 to 1,600 MMCFD (million cubic feet a day) gas to the province. — Photos DawnNewsTV/File

KARACHI: Fearing a serious crisis in near future and untoward situation in the province, especially in Karachi due to the persistent gas shortage, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Monday demanded that Prime Minister Imran Khan direct the petroleum division of the federal energy ministry to immediately allocate at least 1,500 to 1,600 MMCFD (million cubic feet a day) gas to the province.

In a letter to the prime minister, he wrote that the “callous and negligent” attitude of the federal government hit the people of Sindh hardest this winter.

“I, therefore, fear an untoward situation in the province especially in the city of Karachi,” he apprehended.

Inviting the PM’s attention to the “extremely short supply of the natural gas to the consumers” in the province, Mr Shah said it was unfortunate that the province, which produced over 68 per cent of the total natural gas produced in the country, had been facing a situation where homes were without gas to cook food and industries were shutting down because of the huge shortage and low gas pressure.

“Resultantly, the daily wage workers are losing their daily earnings and transport is coming to standstill,” he stated, adding that there was no justification for the people of Sindh to face gas shortage in the presence of clearly worded Article 158 of the Constitution that said “the province in which a well-head is situated shall have precedence over other parts of Pakistan in meeting the requirements from that well-head..”

‘Arbitrary allocation’ rejected

The chief minister reminded PM Khan that Sindh produced about 2,500 to 2,600 MMCFD gas and the people of the province had a first right to the natural resource.

“This is a specific article with regards to priority of requirement of natural gas. It is an irony that Sui Southern Gas Company Limited has reserved a quota of only 900-1,000 MMCFD for people of Sindh, whereas constrained demand is over 1,500-1,600 MMCFD,” he added.

Mr Shah further wrote: “Government of Sindh does not recognize federal government’s unilateral and arbitrary allocation of gas produced from Sindh to SNGPL or to power plants and fertilizer plants within the geographical boundaries of Sindh or Punjab.”

He said that the domestic consumers of Sindh had the first and foremost right over gas produced in Sindh, which was now suffering from shortage of gas as well as 12- to 18-hour-long electricity loadshedding on a daily basis.

“It is, therefore, illegal to allocate natural gas to other sectors when domestic and indigenous industrial sectors need it the most,” he added.

The chief minister stated: “I, therefore, request your to please direct the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) to immediately revise the gas allocation formula and allocate at least 1,500-1,600 MMCFD system gas to consumers in Sindh with first priority to domestic consumers and then to industrial, commercial, power plants distributing electricity locally and other province based sectors. If the current volatile situation is not handled with care then I fear a worst crisis in near future.”

Earlier on December 23, the chief minister had directed the provincial energy department to prepare the case of Sindh under Article158 of the Constitution so that he could take it up with the federal government.

Presiding over a meeting with Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh and Energy Secretary Tariq Shah, the chief minister had observed that the Constitution guaranteed provision of natural gas to the people of the province from where it was being produced.

The energy minister while briefing the chief minister said that the federal government had formulated a defective policy under which natural gas was given to other provinces at the cost of the people of Sindh. He said the domestic, industrial and commercial consumers of the province were suffering a lot and the federal government must be apprised about the grave situation.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2020

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