parliamentary panel has decided to investigate and fix responsibility on the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority

 Ogra granted 306 licences in 2009-10 and 170 in 2010-11 despite a ban on new connections. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

A parliamentary panel has decided to investigate and fix responsibility on the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) officials involved in allowing relocation of compressed natural gas (CNG) stations by allegedly taking hefty bribe.


In a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources on Thursday, Ogra officials also admitted that relocation of CNG filling stations was an “irregular act.” Some parliamentarians pointed at reports that Ogra authorities received bribes of Rs4 to Rs5 million for permitting relocation of gas stations.


“Ogra has allowed relocation of filling stations to its favourite people whereas a ban was slapped on the common man,” committee member Barjees Tahir said, adding the whole episode should be investigated and cases should be registered against officials involved in the scam. He said the CNG stations were relocated without any policy, which was a “big fraud”.


Ogra’s Acting Chairman Mansoor Muzaffar said though there was no policy for allowing relocation of CNG stations, the outlets were set up at other than the agreed sites, which was “an irregular act”. He asked the NA panel to form a committee to probe the issue and assured it of support in this regard. “I have written to the Cabinet Division that transfer of CNG stations was being allowed without any policy,” he said.


The NA committee also criticised Ogra for granting 476 licences for setting up CNG stations over the last two years despite a ban imposed by the government on opening of new outlets to cope with the shortage of gas in the country.


The committee directed Ogra to provide a complete record of CNG licences granted after the ban was imposed in 2008, in the next meeting scheduled for July 12-13.


“There is a gas crisis in the country and we are opposed to CNG businesses,” Petroleum Secretary Ijaz Chaudhry told the committee.


Barjees Tahir said Ogra granted 306 licences in 2009-10 and 170 in 2010-11 despite a ban on new connections.


Ogra’s acting chairman said the government did impose a ban on new connections for CNG stations in 2008, but asked Ogra not to stop work on those outlets that were in the pipeline. “Some cases require investigation,” he said, adding work on the cases which were in the pipeline had now been stopped.


The petroleum secretary said the government was focusing on supplying more gas to fertiliser manufacturers. “Urea price has gone up from Rs700 to Rs1,450 per bag due to non-availability of gas to the fertiliser sector,” he said.


He said work on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project was going on and a security team of German consultants had reached Gwadar. He added the government had planned to hire services of locals from Balochistan for security purposes so that work could be initiated on different fields. Besides, work was also going on to import liquefied natural gas.


Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2011.

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