Finally giving in to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s constant demands for uniform load-shedding throughout the country, the Council of Common Interests (CCI) adopted a resolution to distribute the energy load equally.
The CCI meeting – chaired by Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and attended by all four chief ministers, federal ministers and other concerned officials – also approved the Petroleum Policy (exploration and production), 2012.
Shahbaz Sharif lodged a strong protest at the beginning of the meeting over prolonged power outages in Punjab and threatened to walk out if his demands were ignored. “This is a discriminatory attitude towards energy distribution by both the federal government and power generation companies,” sources quoted the chief minister as saying.
“The centre and electricity distribution companies are consistently neglecting the country’s largest province which is destroying the industry. I demand a solution; otherwise, I’ll be compelled to walk out.”
He then moved a resolution for uniform distribution of power and load shedding hours which was unanimously adopted by the CCI.
“The CCI has decided that in order to strengthen the federation and promote solidarity among the people of the country, a system for equitable distribution of electricity be devised in light of the decisions taken during the energy conferences held in Islamabad and Lahore,” read the said resolution.
The CCI has formulated a committee headed by Water and Power Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar and comprising the ministry’s federal secretary and one technical member from each province to implement Sharif’s resolution.
It will recommend a suitable mechanism for the equitable distribution along with measures to recover outstanding dues. The prime minister has directed the committee to present its proposals at the next cabinet meeting.
Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was, however, mindful of the chief minister’s criticism. “You should stop protesting over the issue because Punjab is facing no discrimination. A uniform load shedding policy has been chalked out for the country and is being implemented strictly.”
The prime minister will visit Thar Coal Field and Pakistan Steel Mills during his two-day visit to Sindh beginning Thursday (today). He is due to hold a number of briefings on the Thar Coal development project during which authorities will apprise the premier of ongoing developments.
The restructuring plan for Pakistan Railways and salaries of employees of Population Welfare, which has been devolved to provinces under the 18th Amendment, were also discussed during the huddle.
This was the 19th meeting of the Council of Common Interests, and the 9th after the passage of the 18th Amendment.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2012.