ISLAMABAD - Owing to growing gas crisis in the country, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources (MPNR) has recommended the Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to impose a two years ban on new gas connections for industrial, commercial, private housing schemes and multi storey buildings etc.

Official documents available with The Nation disclosed that Petroleum and Natural Resources Ministry, in its summary sent to the premier, had recommended imposing ban on new gas connections largely because of growing gas shortfall in country. And, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has completed its investigation over Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) connections following the orders of Supreme Court to examine the matter as the issue of CNG licensing and connections is also being examined by the Supreme Court through FIA and the final decision is awaited. The matter of licensing and connections of CNG shall be reviewed once decision of the Supreme Court in Suo Moto case is reached. While, the issue of gas distribution development schemes is being examined in light of the Supreme Court decision and recommendations will be submitted separately. However, at present a large number of requests have also been received in Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources through gas utility companies and various other forums including Prime Minister’s office, ministries as well as directly from applicants seeking new gas connections.

According to the dispatched summary of Petroleum Ministry to the incumbent premier, moratorium on new commercial and industrial gas connections be extended for a period of two years which shall be reviewed thereafter keeping in view the demand and supply position. No new application for the industrial/commercial may be entertained except Roti Tandoor. Similarly, no new gas connection may be provided to private housing schemes/colonies and multi-story buildings and shifting of industrial/commercial gas connections may not be allowed while load enhancement in existing industrial, commercial, as well as captive power gas connections may not be allowed. However, the gas connections of strategic nature that include development and research activities meant for enhancing deterrence and security of the country may be decided on case-to-case basis.

Shockingly, the summary has disclosed that two former premiers Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf had approved numerous new gas connections of industrial and commercial categories despite a ban. And, of these gas connections, several were also forwarded and recommended by the then petroleum ministry to the former premiers during their constitutional tenure for final approval.

Official says the then PM Raja Pervez Asharf, ahead of general elections, did not care about the imposed ban and gave new gas connections only to secure sympathies of innocent voters.

Official documents have further revealed that due to increasing gas shortfall, the then Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani was pleased to approve ban on new commercial/industrial gas connections on April 18, 2011 for a period of sex months. Subsequently, the moratorium was further extended for a period of one year up i.e. up to October 18, 2012. A ban was also imposed on new gas distribution development schemes.

Upon expiry of one-year extension, another summary on November 12, 2012 was submitted to the then PM Raja Pervez Ashraf, proposing to extend the moratorium for further one year. However, the said summary was returned on May 25, 2013 while terming the proposal as redundant.

In the meantime, a number of cases were approved by the Prime Minister for provision of gas connections in relaxation of moratorium some of which were recommended by MPNR.

Besides, the Prime Minister Secretariat also continued conveying approval for gas distribution development schemes in relaxation to moratorium. However, the Supreme Court of Pakistan vide its decision on July 22, 2013 in constitution petition “ Action against distribution development fund by ex-Prime Minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf” had directed to examine the left over work as to whether the same is in public interest and feasible to continue execution of said schemes. If such schemes found not to be in public interest or feasible, the same shall be abandoned subject to approval of competent authority i.e. on whose behalf the schemes were initiated and the funds were made available shall be deposited with the public exchequer.