KARACHI: The recent increase in the price of natural gas - in the range of 13% to 207% depending on the sector consuming it - was challenged before the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday.
A petition filed by the NGO United Human Rights Commission Pakistan (UHRCP) has named the secretary for law, justice and Parliamentary affairs, federal communication minister through the communication secretary, federal minister for petroleum, chairman Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority, Sindh chief secretary and the managing director of the Sui Southern Gas Company as respondents.
The petitioner maintains that the increase is against the greater public interest and will cause an increase in the prices of all commodities.
Referring to the statistics provided by the government of Pakistan and data that existing natural gas reserves would cater to the country’s need till 2020, UNHRCP maintains that the projected estimates and policy formulated for the CNG sector as a cheap alternate fuel were all defective. The petitioner stated that the sudden surge in consumers and illegal measures and favours extended to 5,500 people for establishing and operating CNG stations was a disaster that the government invited upon itself.
The petitioner stated that the government now has to face the inevitable - the angry consumers who have invested billions of rupees and have now been deprived of alternate fuel on concessional rates.
The NGO states in its petition that the minister for petroleum and natural resources, Dr Asim Hussain, is a medical doctor by profession and cannot manage its affairs.
It also seeks directions from the court about the allegation made by Dr Asim Hussain of a gas theft of Rs20 billion.
The petition was numbered as the first petition for the new year. It will now be heard on Wednesday.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2012.
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