The government decided in principle that the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) will not deal with gas theft cases in future, it is learnt. It was decided in a recently held chaired by Dr Asim Hussain, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, and attended by Secretary Ministry of Petroleum, Secretary Finance and other relevant officials.
According to official minutes of the meeting, available with Business Recorder, the Minister for Petroleum categorically said that forthwith no injunction/stay should be granted by Ogra in all such cases where the gas meters/connections are disconnected/to be disconnected by gas utilities, as this practice is not only helping in gas theft but is also creating other malpractices.
"It was, therefore, decided that in order to curb the practice, Ogra should not process/entertain any further complaints on the subject matter and shall amend/revise its procedure/regulations immediately, if required, to implement the policy decision aimed at curbing the menace of gas theft," the minutes said.
The meeting discussed various issues including entertainment/processing of natural gas consumer complaints in gas theft cases for reconnection/ stay/injunction, after the approval of the Gas Act by the Parliament. The concerned Departments should immediately initiate necessary action to implement the aforesaid policy instructions/decision.
Compliance/progress would be forwarded to the Secretary for information of the Authority. The government recently approved gas theft law to maintain and ensure the smooth supply of oil/gas and functioning of the oil and gas pipelines the offence relating to oil and gas etc is included in the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898.
Tampering with auxiliary or distribution pipelines of petroleum - (1) Any person who wilfully does tampering or attempts to do tampering or abets in tampering with any auxiliary or distribution pipeline of petroleum not being a main transmission and transportation pipeline, but includes a distribution system, distribution pipeline or any other related system and equipment, as the case may be, of petroleum is said to commit tampering with auxiliary or distribution pipelines of petroleum.
Furthermore, any person who commits or abets in tampering with auxiliary or distribution pipeline of petroleum for the purpose of, (a)theft of petroleum; or (b)disrupting supply of petroleum, "Shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to ten years but shall not be less than five years and with fine which may extend to three million rupees."
The Gas Theft Law says that "any person or individual being the domestic consumer who does tampering or abets in tampering with any gas meter, regulator, meter index or gas connection or any other related system and equipment, whether to commit theft of gas or for the purpose of unauthorised distribution or supply of gas shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or fine which may extend to one hundred thousand rupees or both".
"Any person or individual being industrial or commercial consumer who does tampering or abets in tampering with any gas meter, regulator, meter index or gas connection or any other related system and equipment, whether to commit theft of gas or for the purpose of unauthorised distribution or supply of gas shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to ten years but shall not less than five years or fine which may extend to five million rupees or both" it added.
The Law further says about damaging or destructing the transmission or transportation lines, etc "any person who damages or destructs any transmission or transportation lines by an act of subversion by explosive material or in any other manner so as to disrupt the supply of petroleum shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to fourteen years but shall not be less than seven years and with fine which shall not be less than one million rupees."