Amidst widespread violent protests in different towns and cities of Punjab against the rampant electricity crisis, the caretakers announced a slew of ad-hoc measures to at least curtail the frequency and duration of power outages.
The caretaker cabinet of Punjab went into a huddle at the Chief Minister Secretariat to find an interim solution to the problem. Caretaker Chief Minister Najam Sethi, who chaired the meeting, said that a five-day working week would help ease the crisis, while the provincial government will work to take steps for energy conservation.
The cabinet demanded the caretaker federal government convene a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) to discuss unscheduled load-shedding in Punjab. It called for an immediate end to unannounced power cuts and suggested uniform load-shedding across the country.
CM Sethi said he and his team would meet caretaker Prime Minister Justice (retd) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso to discuss the energy crisis and submit proposals to address the problem.
“The Punjab government is aware of the problems the people were facing because of frequent power cuts,” he added. However, he appealed to people to remain calm and refrain from damaging public property.
Sethi warned that no one would be allowed to take the law into their own hands under the pretext of protests and appealed to the people to support the government measures for energy conservation.
Khosa calls for concrete measures
In Islamabad, Premier Khoso directed the water and power ministry to take immediate measures to improve the power situation and use all available resources to ensure power generation is at an optimum level to minimise load-shedding across the country.
Khosa gave the instructions while chairing a high-level meeting to review the performance of power plants.
It was also decided that the finance ministry would provide Rs20 billion immediately to ensure supply of fuel to thermal power plants. Khosa called for new gas reservoirs to be identified to provide gas to the plants to improve power generation and reduce the cost of electricity.
Additional Secretary Ministry of Water and Power Arshad Mirza informed the prime minister that the immediate cause of an increase in load-shedding was the disruption of gas supply to the Uch power plant because of acts of ‘sabotage’. Hearing this, Khosa directed that measures must be taken to secure all power installations and transmission lines. “No installation should be left unattended and a security plan should be submitted spelling out detailed arrangements for their protection,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2013.