Friday, December 30, 2011

SUI GAS SUPPLY FALLING ON DEAF EARS

MAHTAB BASHIR

ISLAMABAD

mahtabbashir@gmail.com

SNGPL authorities unmoved by daily protests by residents of twin cities

At a time when the country’s ruling elite and the media are preoccupied with the Memogate saga, national politics, NATO’s attack on Pakistani forces and war against terrorism, the common man, dejected and disgruntled, is finding it hard to cope with the challenges of every day life.

The masses’ problems such as inflation, low natural gas supplies and inflated utility bills, only to name a few, may seem petty issues to those who are at the helms of the affairs, yet their daily ordeals are getting the best of their life.

While the stakeholders in the government are making all possible efforts to salvage a decaying political system just to buy the time until its tenure’s official end, the masses are struggling to fight price-hike and energy shortage that are taking a toll on the country’s already fragile economy.

As elsewhere, the shortage and low gas supply is badly affecting the life of the residents of twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, particular in the evening and morning hours, when, in a freezing cold weather, they run out of the very commodity they need to keep their homes warms and cook their meal. The low Sui gas pressure is hitting hard the domestic as well as CNG consumers. Some angry residents while talking to Pakistan Today on Friday demanded Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Federal Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussain should immediacy take notice of the situation.

The residents of the twin cities come to roads daily in order to record their protest against the shortage and outages of the gas supply but the authorities concerned are paying no heed to their plight. On Friday as well, over 200 residents of Sector G-7 blocked several roads in their neighborhood as they staged a demonstration against the government’s apathy.

As the weather is turning cold every day, residents of areas such as Sector G-7, G-9, I-10, Khayaban-e-Sir Syed, Chuhar Chowk, Meharabad, Muslim Town, Lalkurti, Tench Bhatta, Sabzazar and Lalazar are continuously facing a low gas pressure and they have been complaining that the gas pressure drastically decreases between the midnight till dawn. They say that during the rest of the day the gas supply remains suspended.

Similarly long queues of vehicles can been at the CNG stations in various localities of Rawalpindi and motorists there are unable to get the CNG for their vehicles even during days, which are officially exempted from the outages.

Though the resumption of gas supply to the CNG stations has enabled the citizen’s mobility, it has compelled many people to leave for their workplaces without any breakfast when there is no gas to cook. It has been learnt that after the Supreme Court’s directive to restore gas supply to the CNG stations, the domestic consumers of the twin cities are facing worse gas outages since the onset of the present winter season.

The residents are forced to use firewood for cooking, heating water and other purposes. “I have to collect a bundle of dried firewood daily to meet the energy demand of my household. What else can I do, when my gas stove, geyser, heater and other appliances become useless,” said Muhammad Irshad, a resident of Bhara Kao. He said the locals face trouble daily, especially early in the morning when the gas pressure becomes too low to cook food. A large number of restaurants and bakery owners in the twin cities have also complained about how their business is facing huge losses.

The authorities concerned, on the other hand, are claiming that the resumption of supply to CNG stations under a court’s order have caused the gas shortage for the domestic consumers. Sharing their grievances with the Pakistan Today, several restaurant owners said they had been facing a plethora of problems due to gas shortage. “We have reduced the dishes from our menu since it is no longer possible for us to cook a variety of food items in such conditions,” said Muhammad Aslam, a restaurant owner. He said their income was low he was finding it hard to run his business.

Sajid, a cook working at a local restaurant, told this scribe that he was already living from hand to mouth, but presently he was thinking about trying some other line of work. He said it was getting difficult for him to support his family.

Lalarukh Farooq, a resident of Lalazar locality in Rawalpindi, said that it was a matter of concern for every citizen that the government was unmoved by all the problems the Pakistanis had been facing.

“Numerous applications about low gas pressure have been sent to the Sui Northern Gas Limited offices in Islamabad and Rawalpindi but to no avail,” she complained.

Osama Pervaiz, a resident of Sector I-10, said the problem of low gas pressure would start early in the morning and continued till nightm leaving people to worry about their meal and heating system. The motorists said the CNG outlets in the area could not provide gas to consumers citing the same problem.

People of other areas especially from G-9 and I-9 of Islamabad, Muslim Town and Cantt Area of Rawalpindi also complained about the unavailability of gas

This scribe also came to know that the same problem was troubling residents in other areas including Dhari Hassanabad, Dhoke Khabba, Qasimabad, Khurram Colony, Chungi Number 22, Tench Bhatta, Peoples’ Colony and Dhoke Saydian. In order to avoid gas outages and to low pressure, some Sui Gas consumers have illegally installed special compressors on their lines to boost the gas pressure. Such installations are, however, causing trouble for other law-abiding citizens.

When contacted, a Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) official said the gas supply to some areas of Rawalpindi and Islamabad had been shut down owing to some damaged main pipeline. He said the SNGPL officials were working day and night to repair the damaged lines and restore uninterrupted gas supply to all areas.

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