PESHAWAR: A lawyer on Monday moved the Peshawar High Court against gas outages in the province, especially Peshawar, requesting it declare the suspension of the supply of natural gas illegal and unconstitutional.

In the petition, Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel said KP produced natural gas more than its needs and under Article 158 of the Constitution, its needs should be met before the gas was supplied to other provinces.

He requested the court to declare gas suspension and loadshedding in KP illegal and a violation of Article 158 of the Constitution.

The petitioner requested the court to direct the respondents, including the federal government, to immediately restore uninterrupted gas supply to the province in accordance with Article 158 of the Constitution and give the first preference to domestic consumers for it.

He sought the court’s orders for the respondents to compensate the families of the people, who have died due to the unavailability of natural gas in the cold weather.

Lawyer seeks smooth gas supply for KP

The petitioner also requested the court to ask the respondents to return the bill amounts paid by consumers, including the taxes collected during the times when natural gas was unavailable, and stop issuing bills until the gas supply is completely restored.

The respondents in the petition include the energy and power ministry through its secretary, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government through its chief secretary, and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited through its chief executive.

The petitioner, who is known for filing petitions of public interest, said natural gas in the province is mostly produced in Karak, Kohat and Lakki Marwat districts and it was supplied to the entire country, mostly Punjab.

Referring to Article 158 of the Constitution, he said the preference should be given to the province, where natural gas is produced.

The petitioner said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had suffered greatly due to gas loadshedding as the centre failed to provide it with gas as required.

He said the respondents had initiated a mobile phone application, Citizen Portal, on which the petitioner had submitted numerous complaints relating to different public interest issues but instead of resolving them, no heed was given to them and rather, the complaints were closed.

The petitioner said he had also submitted complaint relating to natural gas on Dec 14, 2018, in the last winter season, as he had seen many people had died because of gas loadshedding.

He regretted that the KP government and elected members didn’t raise voice against that discrimination against the province.

The petitioner said the residents paid bills and taxes, which surpassed their earnings, but even then, sufficient gas was not provided to them for domestic use.

He said the government cared about commercial consumers more than domestic ones as the latter didn’t have gas to cook food and keep themselves warm in the chilly weather.

The petitioner referred to a high court judgment, which declared those acts of the SNGPL and government unconstitutional.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2019