Both provincial and federal governments reacted, in a familiar pattern, to the anger on the streets over continued power blackouts.
While Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif lashed out as President Asif Ali Zardari saying the load-shedding was a result of the president’s ‘vindictive thinking’, the president once again convened an emergency meeting over the power crisis.
Shahbaz pointed out that 700 megawatts of electricity produced in Punjab was being sent outside the province.
He added that the power crisis was casting a long shadow over industry, agriculture, health, education and other sectors while the cancellation of export orders was also causing irreparable loss to the economy. He said that the federal government had not implemented the decision to enforce uniform load shedding throughout the country.
Meanwhile, the president’s meeting, to be held today (Monday) will be attended by Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf, Minister for Water and Power Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Petroleum Minister Asim Hussain and the federal secretaries of the relevant ministers.
Insiders said that the meeting would most likely pump more money into the system to enhance thermal power generation, but this would merely remain a temporary solution.
There was, however, some relief for the government on Sunday when the Chashma 1 and 11 nuclear power plants were repaired, adding 650 MW to the system. These plants tripped last week, aggravating the crisis.
Earlier in the day, the spokesperson for the Energy Management Cell in Lahore addressed a press conference and said that presently 12 hours of load-shedding were being imposed on urban areas and 16 hours in rural areas.
Thunderstorms and heavy rains, however, affected the transmission of 1,750 megawatts of electricity supplied by the Muzaffargarh power plant to the national grid.
He said that 1,000 megawatts would be brought back to the system by Sunday evening.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2012.