The Peshawar High Court has ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to form a joint investigation team and probe the pilferage of natural gas.
The court ordered the director general of NAB and the FIA director to ensure that the investigation team is experienced and can seek assistance from national and international experts. The PHC took a suo motu notice after receiving information that some people were illegally converting compressed natural gas (CNG) into liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and selling it in the market.
PHC Chief Justice (CJ) Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Irshad Qaiser were heading the division bench. FIA Director Inam Ghani, said it would be impossible for people to convert CNG into LPG on their own.
Chanda oil field in Shakkar Darra is the only place where LPG is produced and from there is distributed to 688 registered points across the province, Ghani said.
The right of distributing gas was auctioned to the Fauji Foundation for three years because it was the highest bidder—Rs50 million—among 45 companies in 2008.
“We do not want to blame anyone but natural resources should be kept safe,” the CJ said, adding that the FIA and NAB should probe the matter.
NAB’s Senior Investigation Expert Colonel Hussain told the bench that there were four oil fields at Karak and three in Shakkar Darra. Ocean Petroleum Limited owns 10.5%, the government owns 17.5% and the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority owns a 72% share of the total production.
The CJ said that records of the companies involved should be checked to see where gas cylinders were being delivered. Huge sums of royalties are being collected and distributed among people, but not being spent on improving the lives of residents in oil-rich areas, he said.
Advocate General Naveed Akhtar assured the bench that the message would be conveyed to the provincial government.
PHC questions GIDC’s legality
In another case, the PHC issued notices to the provincial advocate general and the attorney general of Pakistan through the deputy attorney general to give replies to the court regarding the implementation of the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC).
The federal government passed the GIDC Act in 2011 to tax the natural resource industry in order to generate revenue for projects, including the Pakistan-Iran and the Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipelines.
Earlier on August 29, the court had stopped the federal government from collecting GIDC from industries in the province after a few industrialists appealed to the court.
Ishtiaq Zaman, who is the counsel for around 10 industrial units, said that the bill was placed before the Council of Common Interest (CCI) which rejected it with certain reservations.
However, the bill was withdrawn from CCI. It was approved by the national assembly anyway.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2012.
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