All Pakistan CNG Association has announced that it will launch a mass protest drive from July 13 against gas outages and the proposed narrowing of difference between petrol and compressed natural gas (CNG) prices.
In a statement issued on Friday, the association said the protest campaign would run in three phases. First, protests will be held in southern Punjab and then a long march and sit-in would be staged in front of parliament. In the third phase, CNG outlets will go on strike for an indefinite period.
Owners of CNG filling stations have demanded an immediate end to gas outages and cut in gas prices to 40 per cent of petrol price. At present, CNG price is equal to 48 per cent of petrol price.
However, in negotiations with Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussain a few days ago, the CNG association had agreed to increasing the gas price to 60 per cent of petrol price.
Responding to the announcement of strike, the petroleum ministry termed the decision “completely uncalled for”, after successful negotiations between the ministry and the CNG association.
In a statement, the ministry said CNG Association Chairman Ghayas Paracha had previously agreed that the association would hold a meeting with representatives of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) to discuss the natural gas demand and supply situation and after that any decision on protest would be taken.
Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussain has already assured the CNG association chairman that the government would maintain price differential between CNG and petrol. Besides, the gas price increase proposal has not yet been approved and the ministry is not authorised to issue any notification at this stage.
The ministry said natural gas was being supplied to domestic consumers, industry and CNG pumps as per their demand. However, it said it was the policy of the government to ensure equitable distribution of natural gas among various consumers.
“In the given situation, the petroleum ministry is of the view that the strike call by All Pakistan CNG Association is beyond comprehension and uncalled for, as it will increase the problems of common man,” it said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2011.
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