ISLAMABAD  - Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has approved permission to charge Rs25,000 from those who are living in northern and western areas of Pakistan and desiring domestic gas connection on an urgent basis.

Following the approval of Board of Directors of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) to charge Rs25,000 as fee from those who want to get new gas connection at his/her home on urgent basis, the gas utility had sent a summary to the Ogra and sought permission to charge the masses with Rs25000 as urgent domestic gas connection fee. And, with effect to that decision of a board of SNGPL, skins of thousands of people of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and areas of federal capital to some extent remained saved from the strong clutches of agents/private people who were allegedly getting huge money for the provision of early gas connections.

Official sources privy to the development told The Nation that Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has now fixed new domestic gas connection fee at Rs25000 for those seeking new connections in its jurisdiction within no time. The regulatory authority (Ogra) in its approval has also allowed the SNGPL to give two lakh and fifty thousands new connections with in a year. They also said that with effect to Ogra's approval, only 25 thousands of applicants would get new domestic gas connections within a period of one year and the SNGPL would additionally earn Rs62 crore annually over new domestic gas connections while this additional earning would be counted as operating income of the gas utility. Earlier, new domestic gas connection fee was set at only Rs3,000 in the jurisdiction of SNGPL.

" Only those gas consumers would get urgent domestic gas connections who had submitted their applications with the SNGPL and also deposited urgent fee six months back," a senior official at petroleum ministry said, adding that SNGPL would be bound to install new connection within three months.

Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (the Petitioner) vide its petition dated 30-08-2013 submitted that over the period the petitioner has expanded its network and consumer base manifold. At present, the number of domestic consumers in its area of franchise exceeds 4.4 million. Around 400,000 new applications for domestic gas connections are received every year due to expansion in distribution network in new towns and villages. Presently the pending applications are in excess of 1.2 million in addition to approximately 325,000 such cases where prospective consumers have already deposited their security and service line charges but are awaiting connections.

The gas utility (SNGPL) in its plea also advocated the regulator that parliamentarians, notables and public in general have been requesting for expeditious provision of gas connections against pending requests. In order to alleviate the grievance, any applicant who is desirous of getting gas connection expeditiously should pay an urgent fee of Rs. 25,000/- in addition to the security & service line charges. Gas connections to such applicants shall be provided within three months of receipt of their applications. 10 per cent quota of the annual target approved by OGRA may be earmarked for processing of urgent fee cases.

The SNGPL also pleaded to Ogra that applications against urgent fee received would be processed on their turn/merit, which was also recommended by the petitioner's Board of Directors in its 413th meeting held on 29-08-2013.

Therefore the petitioner requested the authority to revise fixed and variable charges with reference to urgent fee for domestic consumers.