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SHC suspends notification for non-exporting industries

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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has prevented the Energy Ministry and Sui gas companies from giving effect to the government’s notification to suspend the supply of gas to general non-exporting industries until further notice.

The Interim Order follows lawsuits by general industries against the federal government’s decision to suspend gas supplies to all non-exporting industries until further notice. Counsel for the plaintiffs argued that their clients run general (non-exporting) industries based in Karachi and other parts of Sindh, creating thousands of jobs and contributing billions of rupees in tax revenue for the national board, more than any other province.

They argued that, in accordance with the load management plan presented to cabinet from December 2021 to January 2022, it was decided that gas would be supplied to general (non-exporting) industries on a weekly rotation basis with one day of leave for each sector.

They argued that despite this policy, the Department of Energy issued a notice in which the closure of 100 pc for all general industries (non-exporting, including captive power units) was announced by the SSGC from December 11, 2021 until further notice. They argued that SSGC did not even indicate when the gas supply will be standardized in the disputed notice.

They argued that the impugned notice had been issued in total violation and in total disregard of the framework established by the Constitution, as well as for the purpose of disturbing interprovincial harmony. They said the abrupt and uncertain gas shutdown would not only bring the business sector to a halt, but also lead to unemployment and cause plaintiffs to default on investments made in their businesses.

The CSS single bench, chaired by Judge Zulfiqar Ahmed Khan, observed that the arguments raised by the lawyer deserved to be considered. The court issued notices to the Deputy Attorney General, Sui Southern Gas Company and others by January 11, and in the meantime the defendants were barred from giving effect to the disputed December 10, 2021 notice. for suspending gas from general non-exporting industries until the next hearing date.

The court also prohibited SSGC from disconnecting the plaintiffs from gas subject to payment of the currently monthly bills by the latter.