Govt inability to overcome gas crisis

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To minimize the gas shortage in the country,  the government had announced  to supply gas to the residential consumers only three times a day with the ‘bare minimum supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG)’ during the current month through March but the unfortunate development is that gas has been totally disappeared in some areas with the fall in mercury.

For example, around eighty per cent per cent of the consumers of mega city of Karachi are severely affected by low to none supply of gas during meal hours all day.  The domestic consumers are in a fix as they are not only faced with limited supply but the gas pressure is so low that it makes almost impossible for them to use it for cooking purposes. In fact gas supply has vanished in many parts of the country where the shortage has forced citizens to turn to Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) which added to the worry of the people already perturbed by poverty. In some localities of Karachi, hardly for an hour or two the gas facility is available.

The extremely low pressure is another issue in some areas.  In fact housewives bear the brunt of gas crisis as they complain that despite the govt promise to supply gas during the meal hours, it is not the case as the pressure is so low that they cannot cook meal and has to rely on buying food from the market which adds to their woes. The irony is that food vendors and hotels have also increased the food rates due to unprecedented increase in the demand.   As a result, people have no other option but to use gas cylinders which are adding to their expenses.

The irony is that tariffs of gas has been multiplied during past couple of years but despite the high tariffs, the domestic consumers are deprived of  uninterrupted gas supply facility.  Due to gas shortage, the Citizens are compelled to buy expensive LPG for domestic consumption. The shortage has exposed the false claims and promises of the current government regarding ensuring adequate gas supply during winter.

The gas supply remains suspended most of the time in several parts of the city including Saddar, II Chundrigar Road, Lyari, Manzoor Colony, Railway Colony, Kharadar, Kaemari , Burns Road, and several other areas where domestic consumers have complained that the gas pressure was extremely low.  Other areas severely affected by gas loadshedding are Korangi, Orangi, Bhittai Colony, Orangi, Liaquatabad, Shah Faisal Colony, Gulistan-e-Jauhar and Malir as well.  Due to stoppage of gas in the morning hours, the school children go to their schools and colleges without breakfast.  Like Karachi, other mega cities like Quetta, Peshawar, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad and other Punjab cities are also suffering from gas shortage as well.  Meanwhile, the Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday said that since the resources was depleting fast, the country is faced with a looming gas crisis.

Addressing a post-cabinet meeting press conference, the minister said in clear words that the country will have no gas in years to come as it gas resources are depleting by 9 per cent every year for the last two years and if this trend continue that the gas crisis is imminent. It may be mentioned here that in extreme cold weather, the gas demand registers a sudden increase due to the operation of thousands of geysers and heaters across the country but this does not mean almost total closure of the supply to the consumers. On the other hand, analysts attribute the severe gas crisis to the negligence on part of the incumbent government which, they said, has miserably failed to increase the regasification capacity or construct new transmission line for the supply of RLNG.

“Had the govt worked in advance to increase production, the crisis would not have reached such an alarming proportion,”, they said  and added, the govt has only recently granted permission for the construction of new LNG terminals, while work on Pak Stream Gas pipeline has not started as yet.  There is no denying that natural gas is a scarce resource and its efficient utilization for growth of the economy is necessary but that does not mean to fall the axe on the consumers. For that the govt must prepare strategy to teach the residential consumers using gas for the purpose of space and water heating on how to switch to electricity and solar energy to reduce burden   on gas supply chain.

Recently, the Opposition leaders while speaking on calling attention notice, in the National Assembly lamented the ongoing gas crisis and said that it was due to govt negligence, the ever widening deficits, sky rocketing prices and unconstitutional distribution of gas to the provinces that the common man is in a fix while the govt is deep in slumber. They said that the govt is hiding behind just one absurd talking point of global gas prices and energy shortage, while making no efforts to overcome the looming gas crisis.