Munawar B. Ahmad The gas crisis now unfolding was clearly projected in the National Energy Plan and the 25-year projections (2005-2030), prepared by the National Energy Plan and Infrastructure Committee, which I chaired in 2004-2005. A clear solution for the gap coverage strategy was also provided, which amongst many requisite projects, included the following for the gas sector: ? Local gas production from fields discovered in the south (Pashaki, Kunhar, Tay, etc) and the north fields (Gurguri), which were to come on line by 2008-2009 for an addition of about 500 mmcfd. ? Award of Mashal LNG in 2007 to bring on line Phase I, fast track (FSRU) by 2009 for 300 mmcfd, followed by land based terminal for 500 mmcfd by 2010-2011. ? Launch and award of LNG II by 2008 for an addition of 500 mmcfd by 2011-2012. ? Finalisation and award of Iran-Pakistan or Turkm-enistan-Afghanistan- Pakistan trans-national pipelines by 2007-2008 to add 1.2 bcf by 2014-2015. The above projects would have added 2,700 mmcfd gas to the national network and provided for a viable coverage of the projected demand-supply gap up to 2015-2016. However, it is unfortunate that because of a weak and incompetent management, the requisite projects have not been finalised. Further, there has also been a total absence of awareness and understanding of the urgency and need to finalise and award the contracts by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources (MP&NR)/Government of Pakistan (GOP). Consequently, none of the above projects have come on line/or will come on line in the planned period. It is clearly evident that while adequate projections were made, and plans formulated in good time as part of the National Energy Plan approved in February 2005, the award of contracts and implementation has been delayed and held up inordinately. So, as a result the gas crisis is now very much a reality with no immediate solution in hand. The questions are: why have the Ministry of Power and Natural Resources and concerned organisations not taken their responsibility with diligence? Why have requisite contracts not been placed and why has implementation not started yet? Those in the ministry, Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC), Inter State Gas Systems (Pvt.) Limited (ISGSL) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGC), who are responsible for this neglect, must be called upon to face the nation for the current shortage. The country today is facing a severe gas shortage of about 1,200 bcfd, which has resulted in a total shutdown of hundreds of small industries, while others have to endure first two and now even three days of 'gas curtailment. The economic fallout of this is the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, as well as loss to GDP and exports of over $1 billion, as projected by various trade bodies. Can we let such glaring omissions and commissions pass without accountability? It time is for the ministry and government to take robust steps under a Crisis Management plan to resolve such issues, and assign the requisite contracts for fast-track implementation. Concurrently, the National Energy Plan of 2005-2030 must be revised to lessen our reliance on natural gas and oil (untenable import bill of $35-$50 billion by 2020) and substitute with it hydel, local coal and alternative energy solutions. To undertake the review and revision of the National Energy Plan, it is essential that a focal authority - namely the NEA (National Energy Authority) - be set up, as a statutory body, which should be tasked with full responsibility of planning and preparing an integrated energy plan. In addition, the NEA would monitor and oversee the project implementation in line with the projected sectoral energy demand requirements to ensure that the nation is not faced with such an energy crisis in the future. Further delays, political manipulations or bureaucratic complacency cannot be accepted anymore; otherwise Pakistan is destined for acute Energy Poverty in 2012 and beyond. The countrys economic and social well being, as well as our sovereignty, is at stake. We must rise to the occasion; else our future will be compromised at the hands and whims of the IMF and other foreign donor (read blackmailers). The writer is former managing director, PEPCO and SSGC.