Power utilities exploiting govt’s mistakes: SC

Apex court asks why not all directors of KE be put behind bars


Our Correspondent October 13, 2020
Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed. PHOTO: SUPREME COURT

ISLAMABAD:

The Supreme Court has noted that private power supply companies are taking advantage of the mistakes made by different governments while the authorities are also not fulfilling their responsibilities with regard to provision of electricity.

“When will the K-Electric (KE) provide electricity to Karachi? Where is its CEO [chief executive officer]? Who is the real owner of the KE?," asked Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJ) Gulzar Ahmed on Tuesday while heading a three-judge bench hearing the Karachi load shedding case.

The KE is a private power generation company that supplies electricity to the country’s financial hub. The company has been under fire since the monsoon season when dozens of people electrocuted in rain related tragedies. The KE also failed to control power outages that also created a crisis in the city.

The Supreme Court on August 11 ordered authorities to register murder cases against relevant KE officials for the deaths that had taken place in Karachi due to electrocution while hearing a petition seeking action against the power utility.

It had also ordered authorities to place KE CEO Moonis Alvi's name on the Exit Control List (ECL) – the country’s no-fly list

The same bench that also included Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Ijazul Ahsan on Tuesday resumed hearing of the case and questioned whether the electricity issue has been resolved in the metropolis.

"To what degree the power problem has been solved in Karachi? You have also increased electricity prices" the CJ said, adding that the private power companies are taking advantage of mistakes made by governments.

The CJ said: "No one is doing anything. What services are you providing to people? What is your justification for staying on the job? You all should be fired."

He said neither the federal government nor the power supply companies are doing anything to solve the matter, adding that the federation had to fulfill its responsibility which it had failed. He said billions of rupees were being paid to all power utilities.

"What are they doing for the convenience of the people?" he asked

Justice Faisal Arab asked why the K-Electric does not increase its capacity in Karachi. An official of the power utility responded that a request to increase the capacity to 900 megawatts is pending before the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).

The KE's counsel Ali Zafar said the company has nine directors and it is a joint venture between Saudi Arabia and Kuwaiti business groups, which have invested over Rs400 million.

"Eventually there will be more groups behind these groups. Why not send all the managing directors to jail and impose heavy fines?" CJ remarked.

Lawyer Faisal Siddiqui said the federal government has appointed the KE’s former CEO Tabish Gohar as special assistant to the prime minister at a time when the KE's case is pending in court.

The federal government requested the court to allow it to give a briefing on the issue. The court accepted the request. It also sought a detailed report from Nepra and the KE within four weeks.

The court was told that Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar and Federal Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan will brief the court on behalf of the federal government on the future plan to meet the power crisis in Karachi within two weeks.

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