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SHC suspends notification of gas supply halt to non-export industries of Sindh, Balochistan

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KARACHI: Sindh High Court on Friday suspended the notification of Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) of December 10 regarding the halt of gas supply to non-export industries of Sindh and Balochistan.

While allowing miscellaneous applications to merge into two lawsuits filed by Shujabad Agro-Industry and Toyo Packaging Limited requesting for suspension of the impugned notification, the court issued notice to the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) and summoned him on January 11, 2022.

The applicants argued that they are leading general industries (non-export) based in Karachi and other parts of the province of Sindh.

The petitioners said they are creating thousands of employment opportunities, as well as contributing billions of rupees as tax revenue, greater than any other province of the country.

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The counsel for the plaintiffs also drew the court’s attention to Article 158 of the Constitution according to which provinces in which wellheads of natural gas were located shall have precedence over other parts of Pakistan in meeting their gas requirements.

The counsel argued that at present, approximately 72 percent of country’s natural gas is being produced from the wellheads in Sindh while total consumption of gas of the province does not exceed more than 46 percent, meaning that Sindh produces more gas than it consumes.

Referring to Article 154, the lawyer said, “CCI is mandated to formulate policies in relation to matters falling in Part 2 of the Federal Legislative List and enables it (CCI) to exercise supervision and control over related institutions.”

They added, “Part-2 includes the subject of “natural gas” along with other minerals and noted that authors of the Constitution not only well understood the need of a supply of gas in accordance to Article 158, but also felt it necessary that the business of gas supply be regulated by CCI”.

According to the counsel, natural gas is a related subject and falls under the supervision and control of the CCI. He maintained any changes in it must be subservient to CCI’s nod.

The counsel stated that according to a plan presented to the federal cabinet on the matter of gas load management for the period –  December 2021 to January 2022 – it was decided that gas will be provided to General Industries (non-export) on a weekly rotational basis with a day off for each sector.

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However, according to counsel, SSGC, through a notification, completely stopped gas supply to Sindh and Balochistan contrary to the plan where total demand of non-export industries for the defined period only stood at 190million cubic feet per day (mmcf/d).

In contrast, the counsel pointed out that Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) is still supplying 33 mmcf/d of gas against the total demand of 118 mmcf/d of non-export industries of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

The single-member bench of SHC comprising Justice Zulfiqar Ahmed Khan issued notice to the defendants as well as AGP while ordering non-implementation of impugned notice dated December 10 till the next date of hearing.

The court also restrained disconnecting the gas supply of the applicants subject to payment of current monthly bills.

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