PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday directed the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) to ensure uninterrupted gas supply to a major cement factory in Lakki Marwat district.
Advocate general Shumail Ahmad Butt told a bench consisting of Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Abdul Shakoor that the province produced more natural gas than its need but even then, its industries and other consumers were subjected to gas cuts by the federal government in violation of the Constitution.
He pointed out that though the winter season was over when natural gas was in high demand, the SNGPL was carrying out its loadshedding in the province, which was the major gas producer in the country. The AG said the province had been deprived of its own resources.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by the Lucky Cement Limited against the severing of gas supply to its cement manufacturing plant in Lakki Marwat.
Advocate general insists gas cuts in province against Constitution
During the hearing, the advocate general, who was also in attendance, supported the petitioner’s plea saying the suspension of gas supply to industries of the province was a violation of Article 158 of the Constitution as well as the Peshawar High Court judgement, which read that the province, where well-head of natural gas was situated, would have precedence over other parts of the country in meeting requirements from there.
He said the natural gas produced in the province had been distributed from the national pool during which the gas supplied to it was less than its requirements.
The petitioner’s counsel, Malik Ghulam Sabir, contended that his client was a consumer of natural gas as well as re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) supplied by the SNGPL, which was used for power production in its factory.
“It is a clear mandate of Article 158 of the Constitution that the requirement of the gas consumers of KP has to be given preference over other parts of the country. However, the SNGPL, without any legal justification, has stopped the supply of gas to the company,” he said.
Referring to a report of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority on ‘State of the Regulated Petroleum Industry 2019-20’, the lawyer said gas consumption in KP was 249MMCFD in the year 2019-20 against the gas extraction of 368MMCFD from the local well-heads.
He also contended that the act of the SNGPL violated the 2011 judgement of the high court.
The counsel pointed out that a few days ago, the high court had granted an interim relief to the KP Textile Mills Association by ordering un-interrupted gas supply to textile mills.
Lawyer for the SNGPL Yasir Saleem opposed the petitioner’s contentions insisting that the case of the cement manufacturer was different from the textile mills’.
He said the petitioner’s case was about the disconnection of gas supply but the textile mills’ petition challenged the gas load management.
Assistant attorney general Taufeeq Qureshi, who represented the federal government, contended that there was also a judgement of the Sindh High Court in support of the provinces’ right to the gas produced by them, while the Supreme Court had also constituted a larger bench for hearing into the same issue.
However, Mr Butt said the high court’s 2011 judgement was intact as the Supreme Court had so far not issued a stay order against it.
The bench decided to grant an interim relief to the petitioner and adjourned hearing into the case.
Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2022