Blackouts estranging Balochistan people

Punjab demands linking load shedding to recovery of dues.

Our Correspondent August 23, 2012


All provinces barring Sindh came down hard on the government at a meeting held by the Committee on Equitable Distribution of Electricity formed by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) – with Balochistan maintaining the power crisis was marginalising the estranged province further.

Chief Secretary of Balochistan Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad expressed serious concerns during the meeting held last week, saying several areas of the province had no electricity supply due to the absence of any transmission and distribution network.

“(Even) the areas which do have a functioning distribution network are not provided with uninterrupted power supply,” sources quoted the chief secretary as saying.

Muhammad warned the people of Balochistan were already agitated and the government’s failure to address the issue would aggravate the situation further.

When other provinces also expressed dissatisfaction and cited power protests as a reflection of the government’s inability to deal with the crisis, Muhammad shot back saying protests should not be an indication of an area’s electricity woes.

Punjab’s Chief Secretary Nasir Mehmood Khosa said his province was facing the worst of the country’s power outages which was wreaking havoc on its industry. He said the recovery rate of power bills was highest in Punjab and thus it deserved more power. “Load shedding should be linked with the recovery of power bills.”

The Cabinet Committee on Energy has also proposed linking load shedding to the recovery of power dues in several meetings last year.

A senior official of the Water and Power Ministry said “the government had failed to implement the plan due to reservations expressed by other provinces where the recovery rates are low and line losses higher.”

Khosa demanded the supply of 700 megawatts of power by the Central Power Purchase Agency (CPPA) to Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) be stopped and diverted towards Punjab instead.

He maintained the power supply to KESC was the main reason behind prolonged power outages in Punjab.

Minister for Water and Power Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar had said after assuming charge that the supply to KESC would be stopped and the energy redirected for consumption in Punjab instead. Mukhtar said KESC, in return, would be provided with oil and gas to generate electricity from its own power units.

“The plan of stopping the supply to KESC may be tabled before the Council of Common Interests for approval,” said another government official requesting anonymity.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Chief Secretary Ghulam Dastgir Khan said the impression that K-P was not suffering from power outages was incorrect, and presented pictures of violent protests as evidence. He said since his province was generating electricity it should be exempted from load shedding.

The Committee on Equitable Distribution of Electricity will submit its recommendations to the CCI on August 31.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2012.


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