Sindh to run out of natural gas in 12 years, minister tells PA

KARACHI: While Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah blamed the federal government for an acute gas shortage as well as plundering the province’s resources, Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh told the Sindh Assembly on Tuesday that the province would run out of natural gas in the next 12 years.

Tuesday’s proceedings witnessed uproar and a chaotic situation when Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani did not allow Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Firdous Shamim Naqvi to address the lawmakers after the chief minister gave a hard-hitting policy statement against the federal government on the ongoing gas crisis in the province.

GDA, MQM-P ‘can’t quit fed govt’

CM Shah came down hard on the centre for “violation” of Article 158 of the Constitution, asking the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Grand Democratic Alliance to stand besides people of the province for their rights and raise an “effective” voice in the federal cabinet.

He said that injustices were being done with the province’s people and asked opposition parties MQM-P and GDA, who were allies of the federal government, to raise concern at the centre.

“I know you can’t quit the federal government, but at least you can raise the issues of the province,” he urged.

He said that Sindh produces about 2,500 to 2,600 MMCFD gas and it got only 750 to 800 MMCFD against its requirement of up to 1,600 MMCFD.

Pointing to the representatives of business community sitting in visitors’ gallery in the house, he said they had come to the Sindh Assembly for the issue of gas shortage as their businesses were badly affected.

“The MQM-P thinks the job is done only through writing a dissenting note in the cabinet on the census issue. Even the PTI MPAs belonging to Sindh should ask their bosses in the centre to give Sindh its due share of resources,” he said.

PTI protest

He recalled that he had written letters to Prime Minister Imran Khan for giving the right to the people of Sindh, but he was ‘misguided’ by some people.

“In reply to my letters, the federal government maintained that it cannot provide required gas to Sindh as the previous governments had signed MoU with SNGPL,” he said, asking the PTI-led federal government to not blame the previous governments as it had been in power for two and a half years.

Following his policy statement, PTI members strongly protested as the speaker did not allow Mr Naqvi to respond. The members from the treasury benches also exchanged hot words with the opposition members.

As the chaotic situation continued, the speaker became irked and told the opposition members that there couldn’t be a discussion once the minister completed his statement under Rule 261 of Rules and Procedure of the Sindh Assembly.

“You cannot force me,” he further told them.

Question Hour

Earlier, during Question Hour, Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh said that “we would run out of natural gas in next 12 years as the resources are being reduced”.

He said that Sindh’s resources were being “stolen” and the province’s right was given to Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL).

In reply to a question, Mr Shaikh said that the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) had successfully completed 100 per cent first phase of mining project where it was operating an open-cast lignite mine with an annual capacity of 3.8 million tonnes per annum and supplying coal to 660 MW Mine Mouth IPP operated by Engro Powergen Thar Limited.

“Till date, SECMC had produced more than four million tonnes coal. Moreover, SECMC has recently achieved a financial close to double its mining capacity to 7.6 million tonnes per annum, where it will supply coal to two more power plants of 330 MW each … resulting in total electricity production of 1,320 MW,” he added.

Later during the proceedings, Syed Abdul Rasheed of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal withdrew his adjournment motion regarding provision of employment opportunities to the youths of Sindh on the assurance of the government.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla said employment in government sectors from grade 5 to 14 had to be announced in March 2020 but it was delayed due to Covid-19. He said that jobs would be announced soon.

Meanwhile, the assembly unanimously passed a private bill — The Sindh Water Management (Amendment) Bill, 2020 — moved by Rana Ansar of the MQM-P.

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