ISLAMABAD: Determined to bring down the Unaccounted for Gas (UFG) ratio, the Regional Directorate of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) has launched a massive crackdown against the elements involved in theft of the scarce and precious commodity, which continued unabated.
During the ongoing anti-gas-theft operations, the raiding teams so far unearthed more than 323 illegal connections and recovered Rs 75.4 million from defaulters. Sharing details, Islamabad-Regional SNGPL General Manager Azhar Rashid Sheikh in an exclusive talk with APP informed the special teams not only identified but also removed more than 270 illegal meters and 53 direct connections and recovered millions of rupees from the defaulted consumers.
He vowed that the region-wide crackdown against the gas pilferage would continue till knocking down all the elements involved in illegal tapping, causing loss to the national economy and depriving the consumers of gas, which was already in shortage due to the fast depletion in the country’s existing hydrocarbon reserves and high-price in the international market.
Accordingly, he said a massive operation to curb gas theft, recover dues, and remove illegal connections was in full swing across the Islamabad-region on directives of the federal government. So far, he said raids had been conducted in various areas including Chattah Bakhtawar, Gungal, G-7, I-14, E-18 Islamabad, Bhara Kahu, Tarlai Wah Cantt, Fateh Jang, and Attock.
“During the drive more than 270 illegal meters and 53 direct connections have been removed, FIRs (First Information Reports) have been lodged against 37 individuals. Gas thieves have been penalized with over Rs 90 million fines, and legal action has resulted in the recovery of Rs 75.4 million” he added.
To get the required results, GM Azhar Rashid said the company had increased the number of raiding teams to gear up the ongoing operations against gas theft and make more recoveries from the defaulters. He praised that SNGPL Managing Director Aamir Tufail’s guidance had led to the establishment of a special task force in the Islamabad Region to step up action against gas theft. For this purpose, additional resources had been allocated to get the support of law enforcement agencies, he added.
Answering a question, he reiterated that stringent actions were being taken against employees involved in any unlawful activities as so far 25 to 30 individuals had been blacklisted, while legal proceedings were underway against 40 to 50 officials.
To another question, the GM said the company was committed to ensuring uninterrupted services to domestic consumers throughout the year. Customer Service Centers were operating around-the-clock seven days a week, and any complaint related to illegal activities would be promptly addressed by SNGPL authorities.
Azhar Rashid emphasized that no hindrance should be tolerated in resolving consumer complaints, and any involvement in illegal activities should be reported to SNGPL authorities. He highlighted the challenges posed by dwindling gas reserves, with a decline of 9 to 10 percent annually. While gas demand in Islamabad and Rawalpindi Division stands at 100 MMCFD (million cubic feet per day), against which only 50 MMCFD is currently available with the company, he added. This necessitates careful load management, with a focus on ensuring gas supply for domestic consumers during meal preparation times.
The GM highlighted the crucial role of the industrial sector in national development, emphasizing that the country could progress when industries thrive. “So, concerted efforts are being made to prioritize gas supply to industries,” he added.
In response to a question, he said that new gas connections were currently restricted but applications could still be submitted.
However, the SNGPL GM clarified that these applications would only be processed once the government lifted the ban on new connections.(APP)