Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah has protested against non-implementation of Article 158 of the Constitution and provision of gas connections by Prime Minister to select areas on political grounds. In a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, (copies of which has also been sent to Chief Minister Punjab, Mian Shahbaz Sharif Chief Minister, Balochistan Sanaullah Zehri and Chief Minister KPK, Pervez Khattak, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi) Chief Minister Sindh said that he was writing with reference to a widely reported news related to provision of 97 natural gas projects worth more than Rs 37 billion, mostly located in Punjab, by relaxing moratorium on expansion of such schemes.
According to the Chief Minister Sindh, expansion of new gas network in Punjab, which produces only about 3% of gas but consumes over 42% of the total gas produced in the country, is in complete disregard of Article 158 of the Constitution which accords priority to the province where well head is situated.
“Currently, SSGCL is not entertaining any request for provision of gas to new consumers both in urban and rural areas of Sindh citing moratorium imposed by the federal government. The company has even declined supply of gas to Khairpur Special Economic Zone (SEZ) which is Pakistan’s 1st industrial park with SEZ status under SEZ Act 2012. Similarly, it has also refused to supply gas to 9 small industrial estates in different parts of Sindh Province for which Government of Sindh has already paid to SSGC,” he claimed.
The Chief Minister further stated that in urban centers of Sindh, thousands of applications for domestic connections are pending, whereas, in rural areas SSGCL is still trying to complete the schemes funded by the government of Sindh in 2012. He further claimed that the Council of Common Interests (CCI) in its last meeting held on December 16, 2016, constituted a committee headed by Federal Law Minister to interpret constitutional provisions including Article 158. The committee held its meeting on March 3, 2017 and decided to submit a policy for consideration of CCI to implement Article 158. “Provision of natural gas connections to politically selected areas at the cost of gas producing province is a source of discontent and is also detrimental for national harmony,” Shah maintained.
He requested Prime Minister to direct Petroleum Ministry to implement Article 158 of the Constitution in letter & spirit and refrain from diverting natural gas from Sindh. He further requested to remove the unilaterally imposed moratorium and direct SSGCL to provide gas connections to all domestic, industrial and commercial sectors in Sindh.-Business Recorder