Tuesday November 30, 2021

Rs28m gas being stolen daily in Karak

June 16, 2020

PESHAWAR: Approximately Rs 28 million daily theft of natural gas in Karak district has caused a loss of Rs 7635.5 million to the national exchequer during the first nine months of the current financial year. However, the national exchequer had suffered Rs 8,277.1 million loss during the last fiscal year 2018/19.

The national exchequer is losing an average of Rs 848.3 million every month, which is Rs 158.6 million higher than the previous year which would further increase after the final calculation. Gas is being stolen for domestic as well as for commercial and industrial use in the area. As many as 5,300 connections are legal while the remaining 70,000 connections are illegal and stealing gas due to the alleged political involvement and interference. Authorities have allegedly failed to stop the illegal use of gas in district.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan told this scribe the provincial cabinet had approved two police stations to curb gas theft. He said that Karak district had received Rs 4.47 billion in royalties from 2009 to 2019/20 under which money has been spent on all sectors like health, education, roads and others. In addition, Rs 1.74 billion were releasedfor Khushal Khan Khattak University. In addition to the 10pc, royalty, a substantial amount is allocated in each budget for the development and welfare of the district, so there is no justification for gas theft. The administration has been directed to initiate strict action against the culprits with the help of the SNGPL staff.

According to Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited, 5,300 legal and above 70,000 illegal gas connections are operating in the district. Official statistics revealed that 693 million gas was stolen in July 2019, Rs 736 million in August and Rs 848 million in September. Similarly, gas worth Rs 782 million in October, Rs 744 million in November and Rs 844 million in December was used illegally.

Gas of Rs 921 million was stolen from transmission and distribution lines in the first month of 2020, of Rs 891 million in February and of Rs 622 million in March. According to a report, the data for the remaining three months of this year, April, May and June will be compiled later on. According to a report submitted to the authorities, stealing is more common in whole district, especially in Takht Nusrati, Muhabat Khel, Gurguri, Chokara, Gudi Khel and Kanda, Warana, Shah Salim, Gandi Mera Khan Khel, Siraj Khel, Mianki, Chontra, Latamber and Jandri area. Reportedly 80pc gas is stolen in Karak district. Owners of commercial units have got illegal connections with the alleged involvement of local authorities, police and SNGPL staff.

Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited General Manager Taj Ali Khan confirmed that around 70,000 illegal connections are stealing gas of almost seven to nine billion rupees from transmission and distribution systems in district Karak. “We have registered almost 565 and transmission department 105 FIRs against the culprits, but it needs collective efforts to stop gas theft in the area. SNGPL have approved a Rs 9 billion project for the installation of pipelines in the district to provide legal connections but staff is facing resistance from local people”, he said. He maintained that our teams were attacked several times and my staff was injured in firing incidents. Six vehicles were damaged during the operation against illegal connections and installation of new pipelines in different villages. He said total length of legal distribution network is 938km while length of illegal network is 2,500km. The SNGPL general manager said locals of Karak district and Lachi tehsil are involved in gas pilferage under the wrong pretext that since natural gas is being produced from their land, they have the right to pilfer gas.

Inspector General of Police KP Sanaullah Abbasi told Jang that the police are committed to the national cause, mitigate losses and decrease the public sufferings. Some people call it gas insurgency in the area and no one can be allowed to steal gas and damage the national exchequer. Soft and tough measures are needed to resolve the issue once and for all. He further said that police conduct raids, registered cases and arrests the culprits, but the accused were acquitted because SNGPL does not pursue cases in the courts. It has been decided to set up two police stations and deploy police in the area and very soon the police will start crackdown on gas thieves.

Kohat DIG Tayyab Cheema told Jang that the operation against illegal gas connections in the district continues throughout the year. In this regard, 148 operations were conducted during 2019 as a result of which 284 connections were disconnected while 109 cases were registered in which 142 persons were nominated and 122 persons were arrested. Similarly, in 2020, 106 raids were carried out, 148 connections were cut off, 47 cases were registered, 76 persons were nominated and 32 persons were arrested. During the operation against 31 factories of plaster of paris, cases were registered and 44 persons were nominated out of whom 43 were arrested. Police recovered 1,500,000 feet of pipes and handed them over to the SGNPL authorities. Tayyab Cheema added that a meeting was held on May 7, 2020, under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary Kazim Niaz in which the SNGPL agreed to provide 10 vehicles for patrolling out of which only three vehicles were handed over to police. The SNGPL officials had agreed to give 20 motorcycles and fuel of Rs 5,000 per motorcycle, but it could not be implemented.