LAHORE / RAWALPINDI: Following an announcement by the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) on Thursday that a “massive crackdown” will be launched against gas theft across Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, authorities swung into action and picked up more than 30 people on charges of illegally using gas in Islamabad.

“We are all set to launch mega operations in our service areas — Punjab and KP — very soon, as there is zero tolerance on gas pilferage,” SNGPL Managing Director Amir Tufail told reporters at a news conference.

Discussing the possible law and order challenges in oil and gas producing blocks — Karak and adjoining areas in KP — Mr Tufail said that with the help of law enforcement agencies and federal government, the company has already managed to reduce gas losses by 66 per cent.

He said the operations carried out by field teams over the past three years had yielded Rs2.4 billion in more than 325,000 cases related to gas pilferage. He said field teams had also got 803 FIRs lodged with several police stations across the two provinces during this period.

Over 30 held, sent to Adiala Jail for pilferage; SNGPL chief says ‘unscrupulous employees’ being punished

The MD said they had made remarkable progress in UFG (Unaccounted for Gas / line losses) reduction. The government had assigned a UFG reduction target of 18BCF for the 2019-2022 period that the company surpassed. The SNGPL, he added, reduced it by 23BCF saving around Rs12.5bn.

Besides, the company installed cyber locks on suspicious industrial connections to detect tampering. “The company has also rectified leakages on the 87,000km-long network during the last three years,” he explained.

He said the zero-tolerance policy against gas theft also led to punishing 361 unscrupulous employees through their termination from service, demotion, stoppage of salary, increments and other disciplinary actions against them.

Answering a question, he said the decision related to removal of ban on new connections would only be taken by the government of Pakistan.

Gas ‘thieves’ booked

In Islamabad, the SNGPL took action against those found illegally using gas in different localities of the capital and sent more than 30 people to Adiala Jail after registering cases against them.

In addition, a court of law imposed heavy fines on some other people involved in the illegal practice, a company spokesman said.

He said raids were conducted to bring the line losses to zero.

The spokesman said that following special instructions from the managing director, the chief engineer of Islamabad region had constituted a task force to check the line losses.

The teams will work in Wah, Attock, Fatehjang, Taxila, Kahuta and Murree to trace the pilferage and bring the culprits to justice.

On Thursday, the SNGPL teams accompanied by police personnel conducted raids in Tarnol, Chatha Bakhtawar, Barakahu and other areas and arrested more than 30 people.

He said the managing director had appealed to the general public to help the department minimise the line losses by informing the SNGPL offices about the gas theft in their localities.

He said public support would not only help save the national asset but also ensure the safety of adjacent populations as illegal extension and direct use of gas from the main line were potential threats to people’s lives and properties. The spokesman said that identity of informers would never be disclosed by the department.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2023

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