Tarbela failed ‘seven times’ during power breakdown

Musadik-led body missed deadline to complete probe

Our Correspondent February 08, 2023
"The IMF is here. You can tell them that the power sector has been destroyed", says Chairman Senate Standing Committee Saifullah Abro. PHOTO: FILE


In connection with the countrywide electricity breakdown across the country last month, a Senate panel on Tuesday was informed that the Tarbela Power House had failed seven times during the restoration efforts.

The country incurred a loss of around Rs100 billion because of a halt in economic activities in the wake of a nationwide power breakdown on January 23.

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) chairman informed the Senate Standing Committee on Power, during the panel’s huddle presided over by its chairman Saifullah Abro, that the regulator was investigating into why insulation had not taken place during the breakdown.

He added that it was also probing into why the north and south systems had not separated at that time.

The Nepra chairman told the committee that the system had not restarted in time following the breakdown and it should not have spread across the country.

Abro, the chairman of the committee, expressed his disappointment over the performance of the power sector, observing that its officials were not willing to work.

The panel also showed its ire over the absence of the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) officials from the meeting.

The representatives of the NTDC present there informed the committee that the inquiry body on the massive breakdown had yet to complete its findings.

They added that the body headed by State Minister for Petroleum Musadik Malik was already conducting a probe.

Abro noted that the probe body was supposed to finish its findings within seven days and its report should have been ready by now.

The chairman of the committee expressing his anger said the power sector had been reduced to ruins.

 “The IMF [International Monetary Fund] is here. You can tell them that the power sector has been destroyed,” he added.

The officials of the energy ministry told the committee that the Power Division secretary was participating in the talks with the IMF.

The CEO of K-Electric also did not attend the huddle.

K-Electric officials told the committee that the CEO was abroad and would attend the next meeting.

Abro told them to inform the panel of the K-Electric CEO’s return to the country.

When the officials replied that he would return on February 13, Abro said the committee would meet again on February 14.

The committee also discussed the issue of appointments to the Gujranwala Electric Power Company (Gepco).

Abro noted that tests were conducted during the tenure of the previous PTI-led government for hiring in Gepco.

He added that after the current government took over, the minister abolished the entire process of those tests.

Abro inquired why that happened and was the minister authorised to take this step.

The Gepco officials told him that a new process of conducting tests was carried out.

The chairman asked them how new tests could be conducted and the panel sought the details of the expenses incurred on the fresh process.

Senator Zeeshan Khanzada told the panel that officers above grade-17 had been appointed by the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) and had started working.

Abro pointed out that the committee had stopped Pesco from hiring new officials.

He wondered how Pesco  bypassed the orders of a parliamentary committee and pledged to take strict action against the power company.

The panel inquired why were the officials hired earlier ousted from their posts.

It issued directions to re-appoint the 164 Pesco officials who were sacked earlier.

The committee directed the officials concerned to complete the process within a week and submit a report to the panel.


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