The glass industry in Pakistan has been severely hit by shortage of gas and electricity, which has resulted in the closure of a number of units. During the recent winter, both SNGPL and WAPDA carried out heavy loadshedding badly affecting glass production. Many units were forced to close down their heavy capacity furnaces oriented for 100-150 tons per day production due to shortage of gas supply. Glass is a continuous process industry and the gas is its lifeline whose curtailment/disconnection is tantamount to death. Most glass units were, thus, forced to lay off a large number of their workforce as the productivity came to a stand still, resulting in untold misery to their dependents. While the furnaces can be switched to furnace oil, the entire down the line process of machines and annealing lehrs can only be operated with gas. This means that while the glass industrial units continue to pay for the inputs, there is zero production during periods of gas curtailment. No industry can keep afloat if forced to spend three times the amount of gas on furnace oil with zero production. So the industry is dying. The glass industry has been meeting the local demand for tableware, bottles and sheet glass etc, which are important import substitutes. The industry is also contributing to the national exchequer through huge payments in the form of sales tax, excise and other taxes while providing jobs to thousands of skilled and unskilled workers. The glass industry will not survive another winter of gas curtailment and electricity loadshedding and should the action of December 2008 to February 2009 are repeated again in the winter of 2009-2010, it will be ground to dust for good. -JAMIL AHMED, Lahore, April 14.