HYDERABAD: Sticking to his portentous warning about cutting off the gas supplies from Sindh to the country, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said on Friday that Pakistan's Constitution has empowered him to take this step.
"If someone says that I don't have that power [to stop the gas supply], they have forgotten the Constitution [of Pakistan] has that power and the constitution has given me [Sindh CM] that power," he asserted while talking to the media in Wahur, Jamshoro district, where he attended the 10th death anniversary of his father, former Sindh CM Syed Abdullah Shah.
Speaking on Thursday in the Sindh Assembly, the CM had also warned of forcefully taking over the head office of Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) in Karachi. He expressed annoyance that the federal government-controlled SSGCL has been dillydallying on the case of supply of gas to Sindh Nooriabad Power Company.
One-week deadline: Sindh warns cutting off gas supply to country
The company is a Rs13 billion public-private venture, with a 51% share of the private partner, which will produce 100 Megawatts of electricity from natural gas-powered plants.
Referring to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Shah said the pseudo politicians, parliamentarians and ministers are creating a misplaced perception that the Sindh CM lacks courage to stop gas supply to other provinces.
"I would advise them to read the Constitution, which empowers me to first meet the gas requirement of the people of Sindh and then share the resource with other provinces," he said, pointing to Article 158 of the Constitution.
Punjab consumes 42% of total gas, produces only 3%, says Sindh CM in letter to Nawaz
The article reads that a province where a 'well-head' of natural gas is located has priority over other provinces for the supply of gas.
Shah stressed that the Nooriabad power project is part of an effort of the provincial government to address the energy shortage in the province.
The plant, which is said to be near completion after its ground-breaking in August 2014, will provide electricity to the K-Electric at a rate of Rs15.50 per unit. The Sindh Transmission and Dispatch Company has already laid a 95-kilometre transmission line from Nooriabad to Karachi at a cost of Rs2 billion.
"The Sindh government has established a 100-MW power plant and has laid the transmission line … but SSGCL, at the behest of some ministers, who are against the move to steer the country out of darkness, is reluctant to provide gas under some pretext or the other," he claimed. "[But] now, enough is enough. We will not allow you to play ping pong by passing the buck on the Sindh government."
Energy resources: CM fears LNG import will prove detrimental for Sindh
In response to the CM's outburst, SSGCL clarified it is ready to supply gas to the plant as soon as the company submitted a security deposit of Rs1 billion. However, Shah termed this statement as 'irresponsible'.
"We are ready to provide Rs1 billion bank guarantees to SSGCL but these guarantees are submitted once an agreement has been signed," the CM said.
Meanwhile, commenting on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's public meeting in Jacobabad, Shah said the PM can visit any part of Sindh and invited him to visit Sehwan. "But he [Nawaz Sharif] should serve the people of Sindh with his heart," said Shah.
He blamed the PM's team for trying to fail Nawaz by not making sincere efforts to end the energy crisis.
Pakistan Steel Mills: Sindh CM wants SSGC to resume gas supply
While addressing the commemorative ceremony, Shah reiterated, "I will snatch our right for the sake of Sindh's people". He gave a week to the SSGCL to resolve the controversy and sign an agreement for the supply of gas to the Nooriabad plant.
The CM accused the federal government for carrying out up to 20 hours of load-shedding in Sindh. He claimed even President Mamnoon Hussain has told Sharif that Sindh is being meted out injustice when it comes to power supply.
Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, Provincial Ministers Nisar Khuhro, Dr Sikandar Mandhro and Manzoor Wassan, Senator Aajiz Dhamra, MNAs and MPAs of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Chief Secretary Riaz Memon and Sindh IG AD Khawaja also attended the event.