Dark days ahead: 132kV grid station catches fire, plunges Mohmand into indefinite darkness

Published: February 28, 2016
Shortage of water follows as electricity-run water pumps stop working. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

Shortage of water follows as electricity-run water pumps stop working. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

SHABQADAR: The main grid station in Mohmand Agency caught fire late Friday night, suspending the supply of electricity to the entire agency. The area is expected to be without electricity for at least 10 to 15 days as extensive repair work is required.

A political administration official told The Express Tribune the 132kV grid station in Ghallanai—the main power supply—caught fire around 2am on Saturday. The official dispatched levies, khasadar forces and a fire brigade to the vicinity immediately. The inferno was contained and extinguished within two hours.

The incident left Mohmand Agency in a blackout; the only pockets of areas which received electricity where those connected to grid stations Warsak and Tangi –Prang Ghar and Michni.

In the dark

On Saturday, a team from Tesco (Tribal electric supply company), along with officials from the political administration, visited the grid station to start repair work.

When contacted, Tesco Ghallanai sub-divisional officer Shahid Khan said the cause of fire was still not known and the matter was under thorough investigation.

“The grid’s capacity is about 1,352kV ampere while the load at the time of the fire was about 200kV ampere,” he said. “It is possible the fire had nothing to do with an overload,” said Shahid, “But perhaps it was a short circuit and the grid station’s automatic safety system failed to respond.” Shahid added if any human fault is identified, action will be taken against the relevant staff.

Days of repairs

Talking to The Express Tribune about damages, he said the grid’s control panel was completely burnt and one of four 20/26 KVA power transformers was also destroyed. “The circuit bracket and other equipment were ruined,” Shahid added.

In reply to a question, the Tesco sub-divisional official said it would take about 10 to 15 days for power supply to resume in the agency. “The restoration of power within a fortnight will be on an interval basis while complete electricity provision will take months,” Shahid added.

Mohmand Agency has one main grid station which supplies power to seven of its tehsils except Prang Ghar and some parts of Ekka Ghund.

Soon after the agency was plunged into darkness, residents started feeling the brunt of a shortage of clean drinking water as electric pumps are the only method by which wells can be used.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2016.

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