‘Keep your Rs 1.1bn, we don’t have gas’

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Citing shortage of natural gas in the country, the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) has refused to sign a Rs 1.1-billion agreement with the Sindh government to supply natural gas to several remote villages and towns in the province, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Well-placed sources told Pakistan Today that the provincial government’s Planning and Development Department wanted to sign a fresh deal worth more than a billion rupees with the pubic utility for provision of gas to far-flung villages and towns in the interior; however, the SSGC management – already witnessing a severe crisis – turned down the request.
Interestingly, the refusal by the gas utility has created a wave of anger amongst the elected representatives of the province in view of the next year’s general elections, as the politicians ask for votes from the masses under the pretext of development through provision of natural gas and electricity.
“No doubt, the SSGC is playing a pivotal role in providing natural gas to industrial, commercial and domestic customers even at a time when the country is passing through a severe energy crisis, but its refusal to provide gas to more people is sheer injustice with the poor masses,” the sources said. “Thousands of schemes recommended by the elected representatives have already been setback as the gas utility is yet to provide gas to the selected villages and towns under an agreement signed last year.”
Ironically, the SSGC has also advised the Sindh government not to approve further projects of gas provision and stop the exercise immediately, as the company cannot implement the policy in view of the current energy crisis.
“In view of the prevailing [energy] situation in the country, the SSGC is not in a position to undertake new development schemes in more towns and villages in the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan, especially under the Loan Agreement with Government of Sindh,” it was stated in a SSGC letter, available with Pakistan Today.
Under the loans from the Sindh government, the gas utility has so far undertaken schemes worth Rs 2.9 billion for providing natural gas to different towns and villages, the sources said.
By laying 823 kilometres of various diameters of pipelines from December 2009 to October 2011, the SSGC completed the schemes in 340 towns and villages at a total cost of Rs 1.89 billion. The work on another 95 schemes worth Rs 780 million is expected to be completed by March 2012 while the remaining schemes, worth Rs 230 million, will be executed during the period of January to June this year.
However, the gas company has refused to sign any further agreements with the Sindh government.