The government’s neglect in catering to the rising demand for natural gas in Mirpur city has drawn criticism from consumers and industrialists.
Though the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) has constantly been carrying out expansion projects, locals say the largest city of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) has always been neglected.
In 2002, a project worth Rs334 million was inaugurated to supply natural gas in the city. However, despite the passage of a decade, a major part of the densely populated city is still deprived of the facility.
Despite repeated assurances by authorities in Pakistan and AJK, Mirpur does not have a full fledge office of the gas company to manage and execute its expansion plans.
A number of densely populated residential sectors, including all the blocks in sectors D/4, F/3, D/3 East, 6/B, 2/A and 2/B are deprived of natural gas even though the main supply line is passing through the main roads in these sectors.
In addition to that, insufficient gas supply to the industrial sector is also hindering development in the city, where other required infrastructure is available for industrial growth.
Recently, Friends of Mirpur, a non-governmental organisation, held a meeting during which people from all walks of life criticised the SNGPL for the slow pace of work in the city. They also condemned the Mirpur Development Authority for turning a blind eye over the issue.
An official of the SNGPL, when contacted, said since the company was a commercial organisation it was the responsibility of the AJK government to provide the required funds to lay down gas pipelines.
Mirpur has an estimated population of 150,000 people, while over 1 million people belonging to the city are residing abroad, especially in the United Kingdom. As Mirpur adjoins industrial areas in Pakistan, the AJK government has endeavoured to develop it as an industrial city and promote private investment. However, an underdeveloped infrastructure and power outages are hindering efforts to make its industries competitive.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2012.
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