LAHORE, Feb 1: The Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited has not restored gas supplies to the industry in Punjab in spite of a commitment given by the federal adviser on petroleum and natural resources.

The utility had cut off gas supplies to the industry and captive power plants on Dec 5 on rising domestic demand because of falling temperatures, forcing over 100 textile factory owners to approach the courts for a relief. But majority of them continue facing shortages due to low gas pressure, according to the SNGPL sales department.

A week ago, federal adviser Dr Asim Husain was sent by President Zardari to Lahore to discuss the mechanism for gas restoration to the textile industry. After his meeting with the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) and the SNGPL managing director, he had announced that 25 per cent of the approved load of textile factories would be restored for two days a week from Feb 1. However, the SNGPL did not implement the adviser’s order.

“We are disappointed to see that the authorities have failed to honour the commitment of resumption of gas supplies to the industry,” a textile manufacturer from Faisalabad told Dawn on Friday. He said the gas shortage was taking a heavy toll on the manufacturing.

Compared to the current winter, the industry had faced much less gas shortage last year.

Yarn producers say last year the situation was better than today due to the efforts of the Aptma group leader who is believed to be close to the president. In 2012, the textile industry received gas for about six months compared to the power and fertiliser sectors that were supplied the fuel only for two months throughout the year.

But, the manufacturer from Faisalabad added, the gas shortage had jumped dramatically this year, adversely affecting the industry. Still he was hopeful that the industry leaders and the petroleum adviser would find a way out of the crisis to restore gas supplies to over 3,500 industrial units in Punjab.

An SNGPL official told Dawn the industry’s gas supplies would be restored according to the new priority order for gas allocation and distribution of fuel shortages to different consumers as decided by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) in its meeting on Jan 29.

According to the new priority order, the captive power generation for gas allocation has been moved one position upward to the third place after domestic consumers on top of the list followed by the power sector.

The official said the textile and general industry would get gas only after meeting the demand of domestic consumers and power producers.

“At present we still need 262mmcfd gas in the system to meet the requirement of first two kinds of consumers (domestic and power plants) before we can allocate gas to the industry as well,” he said.

The yarn producers are hopeful that the industry would start getting gas soon as the industry leaders are making efforts to bring home to the policy makers about negative effects of the gas shortage for the economy and jobs.

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