In Manjhipur, sui gas remains unavailable despite four years of consistent billing

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Rizwan ul Zaman Mangi

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In Manjhipur, sui gas remains unavailable despite four years of consistent billing

Rizwan ul Zaman Mangi

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Read In Urdu

In the Balochistan district of Sibi, people are cutting down trees and burning them. This is not because they have any hostility towards the trees or a passion for burning wood; it is a necessity for them to do this to enable themselves to cook food.

This district's 80 per cent population is deprived of the facility of natural gas, which is used as fuel for cooking through wood, LPG, or dung (dried animal waste). However, there has been an increase in the number of those using these items for burning.

Sohbatpur is only 19 kilometres from the Uch Gas Fields area, while Sui is at a distance of 80 kilometres, with significant reserves of natural gas.

Satram Das Manjhi is the resident and president of the Hindu Panchayat in Manjhipur city. He states that after the floods in 2010, the gas pressure in the city started to decrease. Two years later, when the floods came again, the gas supply almost ceased, leaving the residents with no choice but to install compressors. However, the gas has been completely cut off for four years.

In Manjhipur, there are around 50 households of the Hindu community, primarily engaged in business. Satram Das mentions that all the houses around him use wood, dung, and LPG to cook food. This not only causes financial losses but also adversely affects people's health.

He said his house has a monthly expense of four thousand rupees on LPG, two thousand on wood, and a thousand rupees on four bags of dung. This means he has to incur an additional expenditure of seven thousand rupees per month due to the unavailability of gas, further worsening his financial difficulties during this inflation period.

Mir Zafarullah Jamali, who belongs to the Nasirabad Division, was the Prime Minister when gas was provided to these areas in 2005. However, five years later, there was a shortage in the gas supply to Manjhipur.

The central city of Tehsil Manjhipur has a population of approximately 18,000. According to the gas company, there were around 300 connections, some of which have been closed.

According to Satram Das, gas has been cut off for four years, but bills arrive on time every month. Initially, when gas was available, the bill was not more than a thousand rupees, but now it is around fifteen hundred. Those who do not pay receive a new bill with penalties the following month.

“Not having gas has increased expenses, but due to burning wood and dung, my daughter-in-law and wife have both developed eye infections. The children complain of persistent coughing. When we went to the doctor for their treatment, he advised using LPG.”

This is the situation in most homes in the city. Women are troubled by throat and eye problems because the majority here cannot afford the expenses of LPG gas, and often, there is a shortage of LPG in winter.

Seventy-year-old Maai Nasiban (a fictional name) resides in Goth Shafqat Khan Khosa with her son and daughter-in-law. She recalls that many years ago when there was no gas available in this region, she used to cook food by burning wood and dried buffalo dung in the fields. “Now, it seems like that old era has returned.”

Trees are cut from the Lakdi Patt Feeder and Her-ud-din areas and sold for around eight hundred rupees per maund. On average, a household of five people uses about four maunds of wood per month in winter and approximately two and a half maunds in summer.

Three sacks of dung are also used, and their rate is now 250 rupees per sack.

On the people's complaints in ManjhiPur, the Sui Southern teams visited this area twice, but the gas issue could not be resolved. Urban residents have recorded their protests several times, and requests have been made to the gas authorities and the district administration, but there are no signs of getting Suigas.

The visiting team from Sui Southern highlighted that the gas pipeline in Manjhipur passes through the fish farms, submerged within the ponds.

The Dera Allah Yar Zone manager, Allah Bakhsh, says that an attempt was made to clean the pipeline through pressure, but the submerged lines are leaking from several places in the ponds. Until the new pipeline arrives, gas cannot be restored.

He says that letters have been written to the relevant authorities regarding the new pipeline, but approval for funds has not yet been granted.

Salman Ahmed Siddiqi, the spokesperson for Sui Southern Gas Company in Karachi, told Lok Sujag that the number of gas consumers in the three tehsils of SohbatPur is around 1,200. Gas has not yet been provided in the tehsils of Her-ud-Din, Panhwar, Senehri, and Syed Muhammad Kanrani.

He says the company has decided to revamp the Dera Allah Yar Zone network, with an initial expenditure of 56 crore rupees. A section of the 20-kilometre, three-inch diameter pipeline from SohbatPur to Manjhi Pur has been restored. However, an 80-foot segment submerged in the ponds must be repaired soon.

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Plight of Manjhi Pur college students as crumbling classrooms hinder education progress

Government officials have been telling them things will get better for years.

Mushtaq Ahmed Bulaidi is a Syedwala Tehsil resident in the Sohbatpur district and a retired Deputy District Education Officer. He says the area's lack of employment opportunities and gas adversely affects the environment.

“Today, in the face of climatic changes, we need trees. However, our people are cutting down trees for livelihood or selling wood for daily bread.”

He mentions that while gas is supplied to numerous cities in Pakistan, the villages where the lights from the Uch Gas Fields are distinctly visible do not have access to gas.

"We sigh while looking at these flames, wishing we could also have gas. Although a main pipeline is 15 kilometres from here, our people in Kinarani and Lashari are deprived of this facility."

The spokesperson of Sui Southern says the federal government has imposed restrictions on new connections and expansion, so gas cannot be provided in any other area. However, he said that the matter will be taken up with the administration for setting up a gas company centre in Sahabpur.

Published on 18 Jan 2024

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