‘No more unannounced power cuts in Karachi’

KE to get extra 550MW of energy by next summer, says Asad Umar


Our Correspondent July 11, 2020
Planning Minister Asad Umar addresses media in Karachi. SCREENGRAB

KARACHI:

There will be no unscheduled electricity load-shedding in Karachi from tomorrow (Sunday), announced Federal Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar on Saturday, claiming that the government had increased furnace oil and gas supply to K-Electric (KE) – the private power utility that supplies electricity to the provincial capital.

He said this while addressing a news conference alongside Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and KE CEO Moonis Abdullah Alvi, following a meeting between government officials and representatives of the power utility to discuss the city’s power woes.

"KE will be supplied 290 million cubic feet of gas. All units of the Bin Qasim Power Plant will be made operational and the majority of the city will get an uninterrupted power supply," he assured citizens. According to him, KE was previously receiving 190 million cubic feet of gas.

The minister further said that the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) would fix responsibility for the prolonged power outages currently occurring in the metropolis, adding that increasing the supply of oil did not mean the petroleum ministry was responsible for the load-shedding.

According to Umar, the federal government had recently decided to give an additional 550 megawatts of power to the city by summer next year, followed by increases of 800MW each in the next two years. “Karachi will be given a total of 2,150MW of additional energy by the summer of 2023,” he added, claiming that power generation would be boosted by nearly 70 per cent.

He stated that they had told Alvi that the Centre wanted to help KE resolve the issues for Karachiites. “However, if this is still not done, we will use the full force of the law to make sure the people are not deprived of electricity. The federal government can take over KE if it does not improve its services," he went on to warn, stating that the government was responsible for resolving people’s grievances. “Previous governments privatised KE, but Karachi has not been privatised.”

KE blames federal govt for Karachi outages

Umar added that Nepra would also make a decision about compensation for those who had been electrocuted to death in last year’s monsoon rains.
A day earlier, the KE had held the federal government responsible for prolonged power outages in the metropolis, claiming that the government is not providing it required quantity of oil and gas.

“The required quantity of oil and gas is not provided to the KE, which results in low production of electricity. The federal government also did not allow us to install the projects which were approved in 2016,” Alvi had stated on Friday.

Rebuttal

Dismissing Umar’s statement, Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh said his words would make no difference to the load-shedding occurring in Karachi.

“Federal ministers are making a failed attempt to save KE, but their statements will only surface for a few days,” he said, adding that an increase of 100 million cubic feet of gas would do no good to the citizens because the power utility was already receiving 190 million cubic feet of gas.

Shaikh further claimed that power outages had increased because of a shortage of furnace oil at KE – resulting from the ban on the fuel’s import by the Centre – and added that the masses had to bear the consequences of conflicts between institutions.

He pointed out that several localities in the city were witnessing up to 16 hours of load-shedding a day, while the supply of gas to CNG stations and industries was suspended in the attempt to increase provision to KE. This, he asserted, could deprive thousands of people of people of their jobs.

“The federal ministers are heaping more financial trouble on the people instead of admitting their failure and incompetence,” he argued, adding that the protest being held by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders outside the KE head office was in fact a protest against the policies of the federal government led by their own party.

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