LAHORE: The Chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Punjab Ahsan Bashir expressed fear of large scale closures, heavy bankruptcies and massive lay offs if the textile industry in Punjab was deprived of gas supply for another 100 days during the winter load management program.
He was exasperated at the prevalent situation and stated that the textile industry in Punjab was already suffering heavily due to gas load-shedding to the textile Captive Power Plants (CPPs).
The CPPs were installed to manufacture goods predominantly meant for exports. The industry remained deprived of gas supply for over 45 days in summer whereas winter load-shedding was yet to start.
The Chairman claimed that share of the textile industry alone in the Punjab was 70 percent of the total installed capacity in Pakistan. He said that the SNGPL estimates suggest that Punjab would face a gas shortage of 600MMCFD during winter and the textile millers were apprehensive that the government would meet this load shortage through supply suspension to the textile industry for 100 days.
Ahsan said that the textile industry operations were a continuous process to generate export oriented goods 24 hours a day and 365 days a year with the help of three shifts. He said that the industry employs a direct workforce over 2.5 million while over a million families' were dependant on uninterrupted operations of textile mills.
If the textile sector was burdened with load-shedding in winter, this injudicious policy would lead to a catastrophic situation in the province.
The closure of gas to the textile sector would result in a loss of employment for at least 2.5 million people associated with the industry, industry stakeholders told Pakistan Today on Wednesday.
The recent days have seen the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline (SNGPL) curtail gas supply for two days in a week to all the textile mills in Punjab. The company has formed four zones for the gas closure. SNGPL has not yet given a schedule for winter load-shedding of gas but still the textile industry is facing a disruption of gas.
Currently, Sheikhupura, Lahore and Faisalabad textile sectors are suffering badly due to the gas closure. Protests have been raised by employees of the textile mills as they are not receiving wages.
All the textile industries including spinning, weaving, composite etc completely depend upon the availability of gas.
The textile millers urged the government to plan load-shedding according to productivity of the sector and its importance for masses. "If 2.5 million people are directly employed in the sector then the government should consider it important for families of these people," said an industrialist Mian Aslam of Faisalabad adding the mills have huge orders this year but the non-availability of gas has made it difficult for the millers to fulfil orders.