On Wednesday, the Lahore High Court chief justice dissatisfied with the replies filed by the respondents – the federal government, the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) and the Ministry of Water and Power – on a petition filed against an unequal loadshedding schedule, directed them to submit detailed replies by October 11.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial was hearing a petition filed by the Judicial Activism Panel. The petitioner has challenged unannounced loadshedding and has requested that the government make public the cost of electricity production and subsequent earnings. The petition had been pending since Ramazan when the petitioner had also challenged loadshedding during Sehar, Iftar and Taraweeh. The petitioner also wants the exemption granted to VVIPs and some housing societies revoked.
On Wednesday, Justice Umar Ata Bandial observed that it appeared that the government had the capacity to produce the required electricity but funds were not being issued to power production companies.
Advocate Khawaja Tariq Rahim, the government’s counsel, replied that the government had paid Rs16 billion in arrears to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and was now making regular Capacity Purchase Price (CPP) and Energy Purchase Price (EPP) payments.
He said that the schedule of payments from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 showed that the IPPs had been paid between 85 percent and 100 per cent of what they were owed, in accordance with the Power Purchase Agreement.
The government stated the distribution companies (DISCOs) had been directed to prevent and control electricity theft. The federal cabinet has recently approved legislation which, when passed, will increase punishment for pilferers, the government said in its reply.
Replying to a point raised by the petitioner that the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) was ‘exempted’ from loadshedding, the government said that the energy being supplied to the KESC was governed by an agreement between the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) and the company. Moreover, a committee appointed by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) had, in a recent meeting, debated the supply of electricity being supplied to the KESC. The government would implement whatever decision the committee takes, read the reply.
Advocate Rahim also submitted replies on behalf of the Ministry of Water and Power, the NTDC and the CPPA and the NPCC.
The chief justice also rhetorically asked the government’s counsel whether consumers who paid their bills regularly should be supplied uninterrupted electricity. He remarked that many areas, where bill recovery was up to 90 per cent according to the replies filed, were facing more loadshedding than areas where bills recovery was up to 10 per cent. Justice Bandial said the government should not shift the burden of its inefficiencies, a low recovery rate and failure to check electricity theft, to the entire nation.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2012.