LAHORE - The Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) has suspended gas supply to around 50 per cent of the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations situated here in Lahore division, it was learnt on Wednesday. The motorists are suffering heavily owing to the gas shortage and closure of over 180 CNG stations located in various parts of the City as long queues of vehicles were witnessed around several CNG stations despite public holiday on Wednesday. The gas shortage also caused panic buying in the City, which further aggravated the situation on Wednesday night when several more outlets closed down the operation due to low pressure. Sources in the SNGPL revealed that the 'initiative' has been taken to maintain the pressure of gas for the domestic consumers as the country is facing above 700 million cubic feet (mcf) gas shortage per day during the chilly weather. They further disclosed that the gas supply has been suspended to the CNG stations situated in thickly populated areas, where the gas pressure was very low for the domestic consumers. However, official sources say that the SNGPL authorities have been directed to give priority to the domestic consumers as far as the supply of gas is concerned. "At least 150 CNG stations have closed down the operation due to the gas suspension and low pressure here in the City," Shuja Anwar, Chairman All Pakistan CNG Association (Punjab-chapter) told The Nation, when contacted. He further said that very low pressure in some areas also left the owners with no other option but to close down the filling stations as the CNG stations need certain gas pressure to keep it operational. Ironically, he said, the SNGPL authorities are not ready to admit that the gas supply has been disconnected to at least 50 per cent of the CNG stations in Lahore division. He also maintained that the gas supply to the CNG stations has been suspended without prior notice or warning. The shortage and gas suspension to CNG stations multiplied the miseries of the motorists particularly those who were travelling on inter-city routes. A good number of CNG stations situated in Shadman, Samanabad, Badami Bagh, GT Road, Multan Road, Township, Faisal Town, Johar Town, Islampura and Sheikhupura Road closed down the operation following the gas supply suspension. "We have closed down the operation of the CNG station due to the very low pressure of gas for an indefinite period. A good number of motorists are going back due to the non-availability of gas at this outlet," Shakeel Ahmed, salesman at a CNG station located in Shadman said. I have visited seven CNG stations located in Shadman, Ferozepur Road, Jail Road and Choburgi Chowk to get gas fuel but to no avail, Rahim Sadiq a car-rider said, adding, that the motorists had to wait for a long time for their turn at few outlets where gas was being supplied. The motorists demanded of the government to take strict notice of the situation and ensure gas supply to the CNG stations. Some automobilists were also witnessed exchanging hot words with the workers of CNG stations at the inter-city routes after they found several CNG stations closed. The CNG station owners in some areas also displayed handwritten notices at their outlets stating, "No gas here, please visit any other outlet" "Closed due to low pressure." The CNG station owners said the government should take action against the SNGPL authorities for disconnecting gas supply to the CNG outlets even without prior notice. It is worthy to mention here that the Federal government had directed the SNGPL to ensure uninterrupted gas supply to the domestic consumers and CNG stations to avoid public anger. However, on the other hand, increasing Rs 4.40 per kg price of the CNG with effect from January 1, 2009, the government has directed the CNG owners not to pass on the raise to the consumers. The problem of acute shortage of gas was not only pronounced on filling stations but also it paralysed the routine life in the City as the domestic consumers complained that the pressure of gas was too low to cook food.