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Unscheduled gas suspension leads to closure of kitchens 

05 Januarie 2011 11:32:37 nm

Unscheduled gas suspension leads to closure of kitchens

Ghulam Rehman

Every day adds a new woe to the lives of Pakistanis falling in the lower-middle income bracket. As if the electricity crisis and price hike were not enough of nuisances, the spectre of unscheduled gas suspension has led to virtual closure of household kitchens.

Among the hardest-hit localities in Rawalpindi is Sadiqabad, whose residents have been facing great hardship on account of unscheduled gas suspension and loadshedding since December 23. Gas supply to this locality remains suspended for 10 to 12 hours a day, making it impossible for housewives to cook meals. The problem has also added to the winter chill.

Gas shortage is affecting people of all age groups, particularly school-going children, who get nothing to eat when they return from school. “We cannot even properly heat cooked meals for our children,” said Rizwan Rashid, a resident of Muslim Town in Sadiqabad. Every night, Rizwan’s wife prepares two meals for the following day. “My children do not prefer eating out. They want food that has hygienically been prepared at home,” he added.

Mohammad Nazir, a resident of Magistrate Colony, Sadiqabad, commented that female family members and children who are mostly at home during daytime have to face a lot of inconvenience. “Due to gas suspension, my wife can neither prepare food at home nor bring it from the market. They all have to wait till I am back from office at 6 p.m.,” he said.

Nazir was particularly perturbed about the health of his three-month-old son Alyan. “I can do nothing to enable my family to prepare meals or to arrange an alternative heating system to protect my child from cold,” he helplessly stated.

Riazuddin, a resident of Effendi Colony, said: “The mushroom growth of CNG stations in our locality has resulted in the current gas crisis in the neighbourhood.” He said there are complaints of low gas pressure in other parts of the city but his locality is confronted with complete suspension of gas supply for 10 to 12 hours every day.

Since a majority of the population of Sadiqabad comprises low and lower-middle income people, they cannot afford to buy food from the market. “I cannot afford to buy a plate of cooked vegetables for Rs60,” said Furqan Hameed, who earns Rs7,000 per month from the vehicle showroom that he works in.

The suspension of gas has pushed many people into adopting primitive cooking methods. “We are using firewood to prepare meals on the rooftop,” said Abdul Khalid, an Afghan migrant living on Kurri Road in Sadiqabad. He buys 40 kilograms of wood for Rs2,000 to feed his seven-member household.

Saqib Abbas, a resident of Transformer Chowk, claimed to have lodged several complaints with Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL). “The officials express ignorance and promise to send their representative for inspection of our area the following day. There is no sign of any SNGPL worker or officer since December 23,” he stated. “The government should at least make arrangements to enable us to light our stoves,” he strongly urged.