ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has accepted the appeals of Petroleum Ministry and the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) for regular hearing against the Islamabad High Court’s December 20, 2013 order regarding the supply of natural gas to the CNG stations for three days a week.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk also ordered its office to issue notices to 49 CNG stations situated mainly in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, and a few in Lahore. The bench has also issued notices to Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) chairman, Punjab chief secretary, Lahore Transport Company, Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination and the Cabinet Division. It adjourned the hearing until January 20.
Counsel for SNGPL, Khawaja Farooq argued before the court that the high court had no authority to interfere in the policy matter of the federal government and its order to supply gas to CNG stations for three days in a week was a violation of the priority fixed by the federal government in which the CNG sector comes at the bottom. The SNGPL appeal stated that to ensure optimal utilisation of natural gas for the best socio-economic development of the country the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet had on March 23, 2013 approved natural gas load management during the high demand and short supply periods.
According to the load management, the domestic and commercial sectors have been accorded top priority, power sector second, general industrial, fertiliser and captive power third, cement sector fourth and the CNG sector the lowest being the fifth. Since the production of natural gas in Punjab is the lowest, at 4 percent, compared to Sindh with 65 percent production and Balochistan 20 percent, there could be no comparison of use of natural gas in Punjab to similar use in other provinces.
The appeal also highlighted that without any notice to the SNGPL or the federal government, the high court granted an injunctive order directing supply of natural gas to the CNG stations for three days every week. The high court will again resume the case on January 22, and until then the decision for the supply of gas will continue.
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