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May 21, 2019

PHC directs Centre to arrange funds for gas scheme in one month


May 21, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has directed the federal government to arrange funds for completion of the natural gas supply scheme in the constituency of an opposition member provincial assembly from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) within one month, which was stopped by the ruling party of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

A detailed judgment was issued by a division bench comprising Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Abdul Shakoor on Monday in a writ petition filed by Jamshed Mohmand, PML-N MPA from PK-55, Mardan.

The MPA said the funds had been stopped for the gas scheme in his constituency by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party due to political rivalry.

“The completion of the project is not only in the interest of the government in the present scenario of price hike of everything, but would also remove the feelings of the people of PK-55 of being treated differently than the other constituencies represented by the MPAs of ruling party,” stated the nine-page judgment, authored by Justice Abdul Shakoor.

As per the judgment, the grievance of the petitioner is that once the funds to the tune of Rs142.882 million were transferred in the Assignment Account of M/S Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited for execution of gas supply scheme to various villages/localities of PK-55 Mardan by the prime minister’s division on March 28, 2017, for laying down a gas pipeline of 100km and after laying down a major portion of gas pipeline network, the respondent company had no justification to leave the remaining work incomplete.

The petitioner claimed that stopping funds for the remaining work was discrimination against the people of PK-55 as similar gas schemes for other constituencies being represented by the MPAs of ruling party have already been completed.

The petitioner claimed that the funds were stopped at the behest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Minister Ali Muhammad Khan, who had won the National Assembly election against the petitioner in the 2018 general election.

The petition stated that the respondents including SNGPL in comments to the court have said that about 76km pipeline has been laid down.

Also, out of the sanctioned amount of Rs142.882 million, the company had withdrawn Rs115.28 million till June 30, 2018 and the remaining Rs27.60 million had lapsed. It said the issue of reallocation of lapsed funds for undertaking the development schemes was taken up with the planning and finance ministries.

However, the company said it had received a letter from Ministry of Planning Development and Reforms on October 5, 2018, stating that the development funds to one financial year cannot be released to any scheme in the subsequent year unless the scheme was budgeted in that particular financial year.

It said the stance of the Ministry of Planning Development was also endorsed by the Ministry of Finance through a letter issued on November 12, 2018.

The ministries submitted that Petroleum Division was submitting a proposal to the Economic Cooperative Committee of the cabinet for revalidation and release of lapsed funds to M/S SNGPL to expeditiously complete the ongoing schemes. It said that once approved, the funds would be released for the constituency.

It was observed in the judgment that from the comments of some respondents, the court could not find any material/document which might substantiate to the stance of the ministries that the SNGPL after June 30, 2018 on account of not utilizing Rs27.60 million, being lapsed, has transferred the same to the government of Pakistan or the same in view of rules of the government of Pakistan being not utilised till June 30, 2018 stood lapsed.

“Even, otherwise, nothing has been brought on the record in terms of rules/regulations/law to show that a fund transferred in the Assignment Account of M/S SNGPL for execution of gas supply scheme, if it is not fully utilized till June 30, 2018 for the budgetary period then remaining fund shall automatically lapsed,” the court stated in the judgment, adding that when such being the case, the court is not in consonance with the view of the respondents that the rest of the amount has lapsed.