The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday issued a stay order against ‘frequent’ suspension of gas supply on different grounds to textile mills in the province and directed the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) to provide uninterrupted gas to the mills till further order.
A bench consisting of Justice Ijaz Anwar and Justice Shakeel Ahmad issued the order over two identical petitions filed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Textile Mills Association, Saif Textile Mills and five others, challenging the frequent discontinuation of gas supply to textile mills by SNGPL.
The petitioners contended that the action of SNGPL was violation of Article 158 of Constitution, which guaranteed that the province with a wellhead of natural gas should have precedence over other parts of the country for meeting its needs from that facility.
They claimed that the province produced 400MMCFD gas and consumed 196MMFCD gas, leaving a surplus of 204MMCFD. They said that the province produced natural gas more than its requirement, so it was mandatory that its needs should be met before supplying natural gas produced by it to other parts of the country.
The respondents in the petitions are Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) through its chairman, federation of Pakistan through secretary of cabinet division, ministry of petroleum and natural resources through its secretary, KP government through its chief secretary, SNGPL managing director and general manager in the province, and Council of Common Interest through its secretary.
Advocates Mohammad Farooq Afridi, Mohammad Yasir Khattak and Barrister Asadullah appeared for the petitioners and stated that SNGPL sometime suspended supply of natural gas to textile mills on pretext of loadshedding and sometime disconnected the supply on different grounds.
They said that the member mills of the association faced huge losses owing to curtailed gas supply in the winter season on the directions of SNGPL.
They said that despite promising member mills that no further curtailment would be made in the gas supply from the month of April, SNGPL again issued directions for halving gas use and consumption. They added that the directions were issued through WhatsApp on March 31, 2022.
The lawyers complained that SNGPL curtailed gas supply to the mills frequently and without prior notices.
They said that suspension and curtailment of gas supply to their clients was carried out by the government on the basis of Natural Gas Allocation and Management Policy, 2005, which had been amended from time to time.
The counsels said that under the policy, a certain priority order had been defined keeping in view the nature and category of gas consumers. They said that under the order, the domestic and commercial consumers were the first priority and the general industries were fourth.
They said that certain textile mills were compelled to sign undertakings, declaring that the volume equivalent to 38 per cent of the average gas consumption from September to November 2021 should be supplied until January 31, 2022.
They, however, said that after January 31 when SNGPL was requested to restore gas supply and was reminded of its commitment, it again directed the petitioners to reduce gas consumption.
They requested the court to declare that disconnection or discontinuation of the supply of natural gas to the petitioners could not happen in any part of the province under any policy or plan.