LAHORE - The PPP-led governments policy of preferential treatment regarding gas supply is causing considerable decrease in the production of fertilizer in the country as the plants having capacity to produce urea in big quantities are being kept deprived of gas while the small plants are still getting the gas because of political influence. Industry sources told The Nation that there are four fertilizer plants on the SNGPL network with an accumulative urea production capacity of 2.2 million tones, including Pakarab, Dawood Hercules, Agritech and Engro Enven. But the government, on the excuse of gas unavailability, has suspended the gas only to Dawood Hercules and Engro Enven, as they have no powerful link in the government corridors. On the other hand, the fertilizer plants such as Pakarab and Agritech are constantly getting gas supply despite the fact they have low production capacity, sources said. Their management has close relations with higher authorities, besides their plants location might support the election campaign of the government party in future, they added. Hence, their gas supply has never been halted, though their production will have little effect on urea production. Sources said that SNGPL, setting aside the court order, did not supply gas to the Engro fertilizer plant on the plea of gas shortage. On the other hand, the utility is supplying gas to Pak Arab Fertilizer plant due to political influence, as it is situated in Multan. They said that on Oct 19, a day after the SHC verdict in favour of the Engro Fertilizers, the government started to provide gas to Pak Arab fertilizer plant that requires 50mmscfd of gas, despite claim of gas crunch. Industry sources said that due to gas supply suspension, other plants on SNGPL network have been left with only one option - shutdown plant permanently and fire the staff. The fertilizer sector experts have called for judicious gas distribution policy amongst all the sector of economy, saying that a national strategy should be devised to overcome the gas crisis in the country. Currently it seems that one industry is being preferred over the other while every industrial sector is demanding a fair share out of the available gas resources in the country. With the arrival of cold season, domestic gas demand is also set to increase with the usage of heaters mainly in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwah regions in the country and the brunt of this domestic demand would also be felt by industrial sector mainly, textile, fertilizer and steel. Sources said that fertilizer sector has been facing huge losses due to non-availability of gas despite the assurance from all relevant quarters in power. They said that the loss of production, which is more than 50 percent, has not only led to increase in urea prices but also forced the govt to import urea. When contacted, Rashid Lone, the CEO of the Dawood Hercules Fertilizes, the most neglected urea plant on the SNGPL network in the country, said that he is not against anybody, as it is good that some units are receiving gas and their production is continuing. We are in favour of the whole fertilizer sector and want the government to provide gas to every plant on equal basis, as preferential treatment would disappoint the investment in this sector. If other plants are being supplied gas, it is good, but we should also be given the supply only on merit, Lone reiterated. He said that Dawood Hercules Fertilizes Limited located near Sheikhupura has suffered most on SNGPL network, as it has been without gas for 180 days since Jan 2011. He said that because of its location, it has been the main source of urea supply, under the brand name of Bubber Sher urea, for the last four decades to the farmers of central Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwah. He said that Dawood Hercules Fertilizers has been consistently struggling to get gas but our efforts have been fruitless.