Energy crisis: Blackouts propel power riots in Lahore, Faisalabad

Published: March 26, 2012

Electricity demand at 13,500MW, generation at 8,000MW: LESCO official. PHOTO: ARIF SOOMRO/EXPRESS

LAHORE / FAISALABAD: 

Load shedding of up to 16 hours was reported in different parts of Lahore, as well as Faisalabad on Sunday, sparking protests in various areas.

Electricity supply was suspended early morning in Lahore and could not be restored till noon in many areas of the city, including Samanabad, Mustafabad, Gulshan-e-Ravi, Johar Town and Green Town. In other areas, electricity was provided for half an hour every two hours.

Some officials in the Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) said the electricity shortfall has reached 6,500 megawatts (MW) while others put it at 5,500MW. “The demand remained at 13,500MW, while electricity generation was 8,000MW,” an official, requesting anonymity, said.

People blocked Walton and GT roads and burnt car tires to protest against load shedding. Traffic remained blocked for at least two hours. “It is beyond our understanding how load shedding takes place even on a Sunday, when shops and markets remain closed. We are left with just one option: to block the roads in protest,” said a protester, Murtaza Ahmad.

A man was beaten up by protesters in Johar Town when he tried to make his way through the crowd. “People should try and understand that the protests are for our collective right. They became angry when a man tried to maneuvre his way on a motorcycle and he was beaten up,” said another protester, Muhammad Idrees.

An official, citing the reasons for load shedding, said independent power producers owe debts worth Rs152 billion to oil refineries. “Prices of furnace oil have also gone up in the international markets, due to which electricity generation has declined.” he said.

Opposition Leader of the National Assembly, Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan said he would raise the issue in the next NA session.

Clashes in Faisalabad

Faisalabad remained in the grip of protests and clashes between power loom workers and shopkeepers, paralysing all commercial and civic activities besides the suspension of traffic.

Loom workers from textile units took to the streets and forced traders to close their shops. However, the traders resisted and the clashes turned ugly with more than a dozen sustaining injuries. Roads were littered with bricks and burning tires.

At least a dozen processions were carried out by power loom workers from Ghulam Muhammad Abad, Bakkar Mandi, Dijkot Road, Jhang Road, Sammundri Road, Narwala Road and Sargodha Road against the unprecedented electricity outages, which led to the halt of textile looms and other manufacturing activities.

The rallies commenced at 9 am and continued till late evening. Protesters chanted anti-government slogans and complained of constant load shedding being responsible for the shutdown of textile units.

Power loom owners and workers jointly staged demonstrations. The processions, which were brought out from various parts of the city, made their way towards the famous Clock Tower Chowk.

The protesters, equipped with iron rods and sticks, pelted stones on sign boards, traffic signals, and billboards of various political parties and advertising companies.

Even though heavy contingents of police followed these processions, they remained silent observers making no attempt to restrain the protesters from damaging public and private property.

The situation got out of hand near the Clock Tower and adjoining bazaars which turned into battlefields between traders and protesters.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Ahmer Ali
    Mar 26, 2012 - 10:14AM

    1-Aiwan-e-Sadar,
    2-PM Secretariat and residence,
    3-Chief Ministers’ official residences and offices,
    4-Governors’ officials residences and offices,
    5-India-Pakistan cricket match’s day and
    6-VVIP feeders.
    Except these described and mentioned above in all Pakistan especially in industrial sectors there is the serious electricity short fall.

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  • anoni
    Mar 26, 2012 - 12:11PM

    Turning off electricity for so long is plain torture by the goverment. I wonder if there are any laws that prevent such failed goverment to restrain from sychic torture (by turning the electricity off).

    Doesn’t the law state “that a goverment that can’t govern should be removed” ? This is the worse state of governace and yet they remain in power.

    This is a simple case of incomptent goverment that had created a law and order situation .

    Recommend

  • JB
    Mar 26, 2012 - 12:32PM

    It would be difficult for our Government officials to know what the common man is going through if they stay in their Government funded-generator powered homes and offices.

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  • javed
    Mar 26, 2012 - 12:32PM

    This is a false statement that there is power crises dont u ppl see during matches or whenever leaders says u ll get full power how is that.
    I m one of a memeber in WAPDA i ve seen everything Lesco, NPCC, and RCC are those where Asad, Husain, Nabeel, Salman (RCC Islamabad) Usman, Ghazanfer and many others are corrupt ppl providing lights to main defence and some other areas from where they get good amount of cash and areas like Malikpur near Airport who never installed their meters are using electricity without any cost. I personally complained to those persons i mentioned that those ppl are stealing electricity even then u provide them light they didnt give a damn and said then stop them urself we r not resposible.
    Power shortage is just 3000 MW and they r showing 6000 MW to public daily sheets are created for thermal, Hydel, Ipps generation and i ve seen it myself and even then they r providing 750MW to KESC .
    this is just a game so people pull their own hair and dont see what politicians are doing or so.
    whenever they want they provide electricity and when ever they want they stopped.
    Why any of WAPDA, LESCO residents ve no issue of load-shedding look by urself their is no load-shedding in WAPDA, LESCO Colonies. There s no load-shedding on grids as they mentioned that all grid is off.
    No load-shedding in any of LESCOs GM or Chief s area as they exempt their feeders.
    this is all u make people fool that their is power shortage this much. There is power shortage but not this much that they loas-shedding for 12 hours or 16 hours if they honestly devide load-shedding to all areas then there will be only one or two hours load-shedding but still corruption is going on because we people pay our bills and cry that there is load-shedding.
    In my opinion together we can overcome this problem by stop paying bills unless they reduce bills and keep striking unless they provide electricity.
    Stop opening shops, stop industries, stop doing work n see urself what government do.
    we gave taxes, we also gave fuel prices what our government is doing why they r not paying fuel prices secondly why they r not accepting China s offer only because they r not getting their share.

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  • zia virk
    Mar 26, 2012 - 1:51PM

    The situation of loadshedding is at worst in punjab university new campus also, the case is same e enon sunday. Its really hard to mange academics for students in 12 hour loadshedding.

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  • gp65
    Mar 26, 2012 - 11:57PM

    International gas process have increased. Electricity prices have not increased correspondingly and even if DISCOM increases the prices, people do not pay those prices so the power generation and DISCOM countries are broke. One way to get out of this problem is if government subsidies make up for the difference between what consumers pay and the true cost of power. Well the government does not have enough money to do that. The government’s fiscal space has gone down further after Coaliation support funds have stopped coming.

    So yeah – Pakistanis can feel ghairatmand by not co-operating with US but they also have to be ready to face the consequences – which are sometimes that no money for power subsidy resulting in unreasonable hours of loadshedding, sometimes it is that pension of railway pensioners cannot be paid, sometimes it is that there is no money to repair railway locomotives.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Mar 27, 2012 - 12:36AM

    @Ahmer Ali
    You forgot to ad Defence Housing authority, karachi clifton , Tariq Road, nine zeero. never load
    sheding allways light on.

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  • ashok
    Mar 27, 2012 - 1:31AM

    No new power station was installed during 10 years of Military rule of Musharraf from 1999 to 2008 despite BILLIONS of dollars coming from USA.

    Military wasted almost all aid/loans/remittances in buying high tech weapons.

    Additionally, there is some thing called transmission losses which range from 15% to 25% in countries like Pakistan. Stealing of electricity in another permanent issue in Pakistan.

    Why no attempts were made to use 500 billion of coal reserve in Sindh to generate cheap electricity quickly with available technology.

    Must be a conspiracy of RAW, CIA and Mosad to divert all budget funds to military.

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