Public officials must be included in energy theft probe: industrialists

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LAHORE: The government’s campaign against gas and power thieves have been appreciated by the trade and industry lobby but they also want public officials facilitating the crimes held accountable.


A source in Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Company Limited (SNGPL) said that the high profile gas theft apprehended in Faisalabad on Monday was not new. He said the SNGPL teams had carried out raids on that industry during the tenure of the previous regime.


“They reached the main gas pipeline by digging from the factory to the mains but could not find any illegal connection.” The source said the factory obviously had political support at that time which is why the investigation was superficial.


He went on to say that this time around the support was not there and the engineer - after reaching the main pipeline - ordered it to be fully exposed from all sides. Thus the illegal connection was exposed from the lower portion of the pipeline.


Experts say that someone in the gas utility facilitated the mill in obtaining illegal gas connection and is still roaming free. They said welding a connection in a high pressure mainline can only be done by a company insider who knows how to weld in a running gas pipeline.


They said until the culprits are apprehended the possibility of the same exercise being repeated at other premises will remain. Moreover, they added that unless the actual facilitators are caught and interrogated one would never know how many illegal connections still exist.


The experts also asked for across the board accountability for gas thieves.


They said some CNG stations having political connections have been reported in the past for gas theft and are still not fully probed.


The PEPCO similarly has unearthed electricity theft equivalent to 157 MW. Industrialists say that these thefts did not occur in few weeks but must have been going on for years.


The power thieves they added have been caught but who will take to task those who aided them? If left unpunished they would continue their practice elsewhere.


“It is even possible that thefts may resume at those very places where the power thieves have been fined” they added.


Engineering entrepreneur Mansoor Abbas said that power and gas are major input cost in many industries. He said when someone steals power and gas they enjoy a huge advantage over competitors. He said a year back a spinning group was caught stealing gas. This group he added had also been under cutting yarn prices to its great advanatage.


But after denial of free gas its spinning units caved in and were closed. He said all businessmen should operate in fair competitive atmosphere m and the unscrupulous elements among businessmen should be severely punished.


At the same time he added corruption in the power and energy sector should be eliminated with exemplary punishments. He said free and fair accountability of public officials is the only deterrence against corrupt practices.


Former president Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mian Muzafar Hussain said that the corrupt officials in power and gas utilities are trying to resist availability of fair supplies to industries because it would erode their illegal income


He said the previous regime had succeeded in increasing the power generation to historic levels in past five years but failed to control power outrages which are maneuvered by the corrupt elements in power distribution companies.

Courtesy:   The News

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