News Analysis |
Amid a worsening gas crisis, Sindh Assembly has unanimously threatened the federal government with protest if the required gas supply to the province was not restored. There was rare unity among the treasury and the opposition benches in the provincial assembly on the issue of reduced gas supply to the province by the center.
The legislature passed a joint resolution moved by Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani, MQM Pakistan’s Mohammad Hussain and GDA’s Nand Kumar, expressing concerns at the prolonged gas outages which had affected the province’s economy, industries and homes.
Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had ordered resumption of gas supply to CNG stations on December 15 after his meetings with the CM.
The resolution read: “This house resolves and recommends to the Government of Sindh to approach the federal government to take notice of violation of Article 158 of the Constitution by the federal ministry [of petroleum]. Due to the shortage of gas the domestic, as well as commercial consumers, are facing a lot of difficulties in the province of Sindh.”
The lawmakers demanded that a meeting of the Council of Common Interest (CCI) be convened at the earliest to discuss the issue of provinces’ share in the nationwide production of gas. They said Sindh produced the most natural gas in the country and had the first right on the gas produced in Sindh as per Article 158 of the Constitution.
Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said the provincial government had taken up the matter at the previous CCI meetings and was currently in touch with the center on the issue. He said the CCI had, in March 2018, tasked the office of the attorney general of Pakistan to devise a comprehensive policy on the gas supply among provinces.
The chief minister told the lawmakers that he would request the federal government to convene an urgent meeting of the CCI to discuss the gas supply issue. Meanwhile, the opposition including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf supported the chief minister’s stance. PTI parliamentary leader Haleem Adil Shaikh said his party had supported the resolution because the gas shortage was affecting the people of Sindh.
They said Sindh produced the most natural gas in the country and had the first right on the gas produced in Sindh as per Article 158 of the Constitution.
PTI’s Opposition Leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi said gas wells were depleting and called for exploration for new wells. Ghani said Article 158 of the Constitution had laid down that the province producing gas had the first right to use it. Thursday’s resolution comes weeks after a public showdown between the Sindh and federal governments on the gas supply issue.
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On December 13, Sindh government ministers issued a 24-hour deadline to the federal government to resume gas supply to industries and gas stations all over Sindh. “There will be Dama Dam Mast Qalandar against the federal government if the gas supply is not restored,” Sindh Transport Minister Owais Qadir Shah had threatened in a press conference along with Adviser to Sindh CM on Information Murtaza Wahab.
However, federal petroleum and energy ministers flew to Karachi where they held meetings with the chief minister and assured him of a solution to the issue soon. Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had ordered the resumption of gas supply to CNG stations on December 15 after his meetings with the CM.
Last month’s gas shortage in Sindh was caused by slowdown in production from major gas fields due to oil shortage. The slowdown in production led to increase in demand at the time when the Sui Southern Gas Company was already faced with a shortfall of around 50mmcfd due to technical issues in Gambat and Kunnar-Pasakhi fields.