Govt left shame-faced by persistent blackouts

Published: December 13, 2017
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PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Power outages throughout the country despite repeated claims about putting an end to load shedding have put the government in an embarrassing situation. And this situation prompted Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to chair on Tuesday a high-level huddle on the issue.

Just a few days ago, the government ran ads in the print and electronic media to claim credit for ending load shedding across Pakistan. However, in the days that followed, power outages – this time due to ‘technical faults’ – persisted in different parts of the country, including the federal capital.

In this context, PM Abbasi on Tuesday presided over a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCE) to discuss the options to meet the energy demands.

“The meeting also reviewed various power sector development projects which are being set up to diversify the existing energy mix of the country including wind, solar and hydel power projects,” said a statement issued by the PM Office after the moot.

An official source said the PM sounded somewhat relieved when he was told that the recent spells of heavy rains would help increase the hydel power generation and end power outages ‘for the next few weeks, at least.’

PM given misleading figures for summer load-shedding plan

“Load shedding would not be an issue for the next few weeks. Thereafter, we would be expecting more rains by the end of January and start of February. That’s what we have been doing—waiting for the divine intervention to meet our energy needs,” the source said.

He said the power authorities had misled the PM into believing that load shedding was not being observed across the country ‘for even a second’. However, the premier was appalled when some PML-N leaders and his own constituents in Murree told him about continuing power outages.

Taking notice of this load shedding, the PM had ordered that in-charge of all grid stations where load shedding was carried out be taken to task. Recently, some officials of different distribution companies (DISCOS) were suspended allegedly for their failure to stop load shedding.

In a recent meeting held to review the power situation, the PM was informed that power outages in the country were not due to energy crisis but due to some ‘technical faults’ in the distribution networks.

Abbasi, who is not ready to believe the power officials’ claims anymore, came down hard on the authorities concerned and directed them to upgrade distribution networks in the meeting held on November 28, sources said.

With load-shedding ongoing, PM orders performance probe

Since October, Abbasi has been insisting publicly that load shedding would end by November 2017, a month which has already passed.

After assuming charge on August 1, following the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, Premier Abbasi had established the new Ministry of Energy, comprising power and petroleum divisions, in a bid to improve their functioning, but he is not satisfied with its performance.

According to a press release issued from the PM Office in October, the PM had also “directed all relevant stakeholders to increase coordination for optimum utilisation of available resources and ensuring maximum efficiency in the power sector.”

Lately, the government functionaries have been taking pride in what they claim is ‘surplus’ electricity generation of up to more than 2,500 MW, which implies that electricity is being generated in excess of its demand, but the ground realities tell a different story.

“The meeting discussed threadbare various policies including power cogeneration by sugar industry and the renewable energy policy 2006,” the PM Office statement said. “It was decided to introduce suitable amendments in the existing policy framework in order to address various issues relating to power tariff.”

Power Minister Awais Leghari, State Minister for Petroleum Jam Kamal Khan, secretaries of the divisions concerned and other senior officials attended the meeting.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • Khan
    Dec 13, 2017 - 1:53PM

    Bhai jaan. Loadshedding sirf udhr hai..jahan chori hai. If the governwmnt starts supplying electricity in full to all feeders with losses then circular debt will increase.Recommend

  • cuban
    Dec 13, 2017 - 2:55PM

    Credibility – something Pakistan leaders have never understood. When you lose it – hard to get it back. Recommend

  • ishrat salim
    Dec 13, 2017 - 3:12PM

    @Khan: If that is the case, then why the circular debts have already increased, from where ? It is known open secret, there is no problem in generation from the beginning, but there is problem in distribution network due to old & depleted transmission system, which need to be fixed before any new projects come on line, but it is the opposite in our country, build new power projects ( because there is commission ), but do not touch the transmission system, what a country, yet you will un-necessary support the govt without going into details. Then there are crooks, especially the factories & industries who are running them on stolen high voltage connections. Then there are many residential homes who have been given illegal lines directly from the poles by-passing the meter. Then there are kunda system, which the poor people living under the transmission lines have taken illegal connections but the govt cannot do anything due to political expediency because they are their actual voters on ground & cannot afford to make them angry. Then there are people who do not pay electricity dues which include many govt depts. including PM & President house, NA, Parliamentary lodge, should I name more ? Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    Dec 13, 2017 - 10:27PM

    Federal and provincial governments’ key departments are the main defaulters of WAPDA but enjoying still uninterrupted electricity’s supply 24 hours and their payable dues are very much higher than the line losses and electricity’s theft in the remote area/parts of Pakistan.When government will supply cheap electricity throughout Pakistan and manage electricity provider companies in the most appropriate form and effectively and will receive the full dues like common man from the all defaulter department then electricity’s theft will automatically be ended..Recommend

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