The Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources unanimously passed on Thursday a bill for control of gas theft and recovery of arrears.
The bill envisages up to 10 years of imprisonment and one million rupees of fine for gas theft or tampering with meters.
A meeting of the committee presided over by Mohammad Yousaf was informed by the petroleum secretary that gas theft was causing a loss of over Rs14 billion per year to the exchequer. The theft includes unaccounted for gas due to tampering of pipelines.
He said that gas theft was made part of the Criminal Procedure Code in 2011 as a cognizable offence, but the government wanted to increase fine and imprisonment and make it a non-bailable offence through the new bill.
He said gas theft and tampering with meters and pipelines were more prevalent among commercial, industrial and bulk consumers. The number of residential consumers had grown manifold over the years, but there was negligible amount of gas theft among domestic consumers, he added. The petroleum secretary said the proposed bill also provided an incentive to informers of gas theft or tampering. The informer will get 5 per cent of total payable bill as a reward.
He said an industrial consumer found stealing gas or tampering with the pipeline would be sentenced up to 10 years in jail.
The domestic or commercial consumer would face a fine of Rs1m for tampering the pipeline and he would be sentenced to six months for tampering the meter.
The industrial consumer would be sentenced to 10 years for tampering the pipeline and he would be imprisoned for 14 years for breaking the pipeline.