Gas is both pricier and in short supply in the country — something that was not the case just months back. The crisis, on the supply side, has deepened in Sindh and Balochistan, with the winter getting harsher. Even in Karachi, where the winter demand for gas is perhaps the lowest in the country, there have been growing complaints about low gas pressure or no supply at all since the beginning of winter, and the situation has worsened over the last couple of days. As a damage-control measure, the SSGC has stopped supply to CNG stations which remained shut from 10pm on Thursday to 8am on Sunday. While the gas crisis has hit almost everyone, it has particularly crippled the industry, mostly based in Karachi. The SITE industrial zone has been lying closed due to the gas crisis for about a week now while low gas pressure has badly affected production in five more industrial zones of the city, according to media reports.
The political leadership of Sindh is concerned about the situation, and rightly so. The Sindh CM has, through a demi official letter, conveyed his deep concern to the PM over the gas outages in the province. The letter says that the gas crisis is gravely impacting the province’s economy, industries and homes, and the ‘stoppage of gas supply’ is a violation of Article 158 of the Constitution. An MQM member of the Sindh Assembly also tabled a resolution in the House, speaking on which the CM called upon the Centre to convene an urgent meeting of the CCI to discuss the issue. To cope with the situation, in the meanwhile, the SSGC has reportedly proposed provision of imported LNG in Sindh and Balochistan at subsidised rates, on the lines consumers are being provided gas in Punjab. Even if the prevailing outages are only due to an unprecedented dip in mercury, as the authorities claim, a comprehensive policy needs to be devised to prevent the occurrence of such a situation in the next season.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2019.