KP govt says it is unable to curb gas theft

* Writes to Petroleum Ministry expressing ‘inability to cooperate’ on ending gas theft * Has so far refused to take strict action over theft in the districts of Karak and Kohat

ISLAMABAD: The PTI-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has expressed its inability to check massive gas theft in two districts of the province, causing Rs 8 billion annual loss to the national exchequer. 
The practice is continuing in some parts of the province, officials said. Official sources in the Petroleum Ministry disclosed to Daily Times that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had recently written a letter to the ministry expressing its “inability to cooperate” on ending colossal gas theft in two districts of the province. The provincial government has so far refused to cooperate and take strict action over the theft in the districts of Karak and Kohat. 
Sources in the ministry said that consumers in the domestic, commercial and CNG sector have allegedly been involved in stealing gas for a long time. As a result precious gas is being wasted, as the thieves use low-quality pipes to steal the fuel. It is pertinent to note here that officials and staff members of the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited have so far failed to control the menace. 
The gas utility has even not installed gas meters because its teams cannot enter these areas due to the prevailing law and order situation. “Despite submission of various requests to the KP Police, so far no security has been provided to the teams of SNGPL,” an official said. The sources also said that on the requests of the Ministry of Petroleum and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) the KP chief minister had constituted a committee comprising officials of the gas company, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority and the ministry to control this problem.
The government of KP had, however, also held a meeting with the community elders through the traditional institution of jirga, which had been established for the immediate dispensation of justice. This committee met with a local jirga, which had assured the committee that it would play its due role in bringing an end to the theft of gas by installing gas meters in Karak and Kohat. The jirga also assured the committee that it would ensure payment of metered bills.
However, the KP chief minister has now surprisingly refused to cooperate in this regard and written a letter to the Petroleum Ministry, expressing his government’s inability to control gas theft worth billions of rupees per year. While expressing their surprise over the letter of the PTI–led KP government to the Petroleum Ministry, sources in the oil and gas sector had termed it a double standard of the PTI. They said that on one hand PTI’s MNA Asad Umar has moved the Supreme Court (SC) to prevent the masses from bearing the brunt of heavy load on account of high benchmark of Unaccounted for Gas (UfG), while on the other hand the government of KP has now refused to cooperate in stopping the gas theft in the province which PTI rules. 
They believe that by expressing its inability to control gas theft in the province, the PTI-led provincial government is actually protecting the gas thieves. They also said that the Petroleum Ministry would present the letter of the PTI-led provincial government to the apex court during the proceeding of Asad Umar’s petition. When contacted over the letter of the PTI-led provincial government, PTI MNA Asad Umar said controlling law and order is the responsibility of the provincial government, and in principle gas meters should be installed there. 
In his petition Asad has also said that in an energy-deficient country like Pakistan, gas worth over $2 billion is leaked or stolen due to high UFG. “This gas leakage and theft, if controlled, can reduce the shortage and fulfil the gas demand,” he added. 

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