The Criminal Law Amendment Act 2011, passed by parliament and in force since January, seems not to have helped much the gas distribution companies in curbing gas theft as Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) has so far managed to register only 150 criminal cases in the face of massive gas stealing.
With gas theft level at 11% in its network, SNGPL is conducting raids in commercial, domestic and industrial areas to bring down the figure. However, the drive seems to not have given satisfactory results as out of the number of people nominated in 150 FIRs only 50% have been arrested, but 25% of them have managed to get pre-arrest bail, industry people say.
In a bid to deal with these cases, SNGPL officials say the company has increased the number of law officers in all regions as cases will increase in coming months and each case will go to court. The company has also spent millions of rupees on advertisements, warning against stealing gas.
The law is aimed at controlling oil and gas theft through distribution pipelines, meters and other sources.
SNGPL Senior General Manager Distribution South Amjad Latif told The Express Tribune “we cannot file a case against people of an entire area where gas theft is found. We only register FIR against few people mainly involved in theft.
“For instance, if our team finds a bypass from our main or secondary transmission line, then case is registered against the most concerned person,” he said.
“We cannot register case against those who are not our consumers, only what we can do with such illegal connections is to disconnect them,” he said.
Of the 150 cases registered by SNGPL, 50 were from the industrial and CNG sectors, 50 came from the commercial sector and the remaining were related to the domestic sector.
Latif, however, pointed out that the company recovered 50% of arrears following the enforcement of the criminal act as people avoided police cases and preferred to deposit the fine.
When asked whether SNGPL went after any big gun, Latif said the company often had to bear immense pressure but it tried its best to go by the law.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2012.
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