LAHORE: Thousands of commercial and residential consumers of Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) are involved in gas pilfering while the management has turned its eyes blind to the situation, Pakistan Today has observed.
According to the sources, currently the SNGPL have around one million domestic and 14 thousand commercial connections in Lahore and besides these connections, there are thousands of other people who are consuming gas illegally.
Since few years, SNGPL’s management has made claims of controlling gas theft in the city but the reality on the ground presents another side of the picture as many people are involved in the gas theft.
This has been revealed during the survey of the city that many residents and businessmen are busy in gas pilfering without any fear. In many areas, particularly in less developed areas of the city, people are consuming gas illegal extension of gas pipes.
The same situation can be witnessed in different markets in the city where multiple shopkeepers are using the gas from a single meter. Mostly, businessmen related to food industry are involved in the gas theft. Such shops and food points are available at Mall Road, Temple Road, Anarkali, Moazng, Ichra and other areas of the city.
Sources said that all illegal connections and illegal extensions on gas connections are carried out with the help of SNGPL staff. They said that besides illegal extensions, there are many other customers using the domestic connections for commercial purposes.
“SNGPL staff have given free hand to such violators against a fixed monthly as a bribe. Not a single area in the city can be identified where pilfering is not taking place,” sources said adding that this is not causing the low pressure of gas but also a great loss to the public exchequer.
Sources further said that the SNGPL staffers often hesitate to act against the influential persons involved in gas theft as they often have links with those working at SNGPL.
On the other hand, sources revealed that a large number of industrial units in the provincial capital are involved in gas pilfering and whenever an inspection team reaches to monitor the unit, they are not allowed to enter inside it. “The owners of such industrial units are often backed by politicians or other influential persons,” they added.
Talking to Pakistan Today, an official seeking anonymity admitted that gas pilfering has continued to exist in the city despite measures taken against it. The official said that this could not be rejected that the gas is stolen in the city without the involvement of SNGPL staff.
However, the official said that the department takes action against the employees whenever they are found facilitating the violators.
SNGPL General Manager Qaiser Masood while talking to Pakistan Today said that the department is fully aware of the situation and its teams are busy in raiding and identifying the gas pilferers in the city. He said that the teams are identifying the gas pilferers in commercial and residential areas on daily basis.
“There are over one million domestic and thousands of commercial connections present in the city while department does not have a large number of employees to control the situation overnight,” he said and added that we are trying our best that within a couple of weeks, the department would be able to identify a great number of pilferers as monitoring is being done in the city and the teams are compiling reports of violators.