NEPRA told to ensure KE complies with orders to end discriminatory load-shedding

SHC disposes of petition seeking action against KE for intense loadshedding in 2015 heat wave


In July 2015, Nepra – which regulates K-Electric – had issued a show-cause notice to KE for “constantly failing to fulfill its service obligations”. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has directed the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) to take action against K-Electric (KE) if it fails to comply with the regulatory body’s earlier directive to provide electricity to bill-paying consumers without discrimination.

A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Irfan Saadat Khan, issued these directives in a two-page order released on Tuesday. The court had earlier reserved the judgement on Monday in the petition filed by a group of non-profit organisations seeking a judicial inquiry into the deaths of more than 1,000 Karachi residents during the 2015 heat wave, which was coupled with massive power outages.

The petition had sought action against the provincial government for failing to respond in time to the heat wave crisis and K-Electric for failing to provide uninterrupted power supply, which could have saved lives.

Nepra issues notice to KE over power outages

In July 2015, Nepra – which regulates K-Electric – had issued a show-cause notice to the utility for “constantly failing to fulfil its service obligations” by not ensuring uninterrupted power supply, failing to dispatch power from its own generation plants and for the discriminatory practice of load-shedding in areas where bill recovery is low, which punishes paying customers along with defaulters and power thieves.

Subsequently, last year in March, the regularity body had fined K-Electric Rs10 million for failing to provide uninterrupted electricity and not fully utilising its generation capacity. Nepra had also directed the utility to abstain from discriminatory load-shedding and to complete all investment plans it had to upgrade and improve its transmission system.

During the SHC proceedings, Advocate Faisal Siddiqui had stated that he will be satisfied if the court disposed of his petition by directing Nepra to ensure that K-Electric complies with the regulatory body’s March 2016 order in letter and spirit.

The bench asked Nepra’s lawyer Advocate Kashif Hanif to let it know if there was any impediment to the implementation of its order to which Hanif responded that there wasn’t and Nepra will comply.

K-Electric told to explain blackouts

The bench also called upon K-Electric Head of Distribution Amir Zia and Head of Transmission Muhammad Adil to state if they had any reservation in the implementation of Nepra’s order. Both the officers said since Nepra was the regulator, K-Electric would comply with its orders in accordance with the law.

In these circumstances, Advocate Abid S Zuberi, the lawyer for K-Electric, preferred not to question the maintainability of the petition, as he had indicated in earlier hearings.

Therefore, the SHC bench, disposed of the petition by ordering Nepra to ensure that the directives it (Nepra) issued to K-Electric on March 25, 2016 following the show-cause notice are being complied with.

“Needless to state that in case of non-compliance of K-Electric authorities, Nepra authorities would be at liberty to take appropriate action in accordance with the law against K-Electric,” the order read.

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