PESHAWAR: Following the footsteps of the Peshawar High Court (PHC), the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) has started raising concerns over unscheduled power outages by the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco).
K-P is a major producer of power in the country yet the province is not only supplied less electricity but at higher rates. The price charged per unit in K-P is Rs10 although it produces one unit of electricity for Rs1.30 to Rs2 per unit.
The imbalance continues, a total of 1,600 megawatts are provided to the province to satisfy a demand which totals 2,700 megawatts – this of course results in seven to eight hours of power cuts daily. Carrying the blame forward, Pesco, holds the National Transmission and Distribution Company (NTDC) Islamabad responsible for carrying out prolonged unscheduled load-shedding. Pesco claims as the NTDC has no formula by which it can allocate due share to provinces, K-P suffers unreasonably long power outages.
These power outages have irked residents and many filed complaints with the PHC’s Human Rights Directorate. This led to the court taking notice on May 30, and Pesco Chief Executive Brigadier (retd) Tariq Sadozai was summoned to appear before the court and submit a reply in this regard.
Sadozai confirmed “K-P’s total electricity consumption is between 2,400 megawatts to 2,700 megawatts and is supplied 1,600 megawatts”. However, he had no answers when the court questioned why hydel power (generated in K-P at a low cost) was being mixed with thermal power (generated at a high cost outside the province) and then provided to K-P at the same rates as other provinces.
“We care for every corner of the country but power generated at Rs15 per unit is being mixed with power generated at Rs2 per unit and then supplied to us,” PHC Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan was quoted as saying. He then ordered electricity outages should not exceed 10 hours a day.
The court’s orders are still being flouted, however, as power cuts cross the 12-hour mark every day in Ramazan – which has finally raised concerns in the provincial government’s quarters. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government announced it would take to the streets if water and power authorities continued unannounced load-shedding.
On Sunday, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak censured the federal government over unscheduled outages during Ramazan and demanded the Ministry for Water and Power to provide K-P its full share of electricity. During a press conference in Peshawar, PTI MNAs said PTI will stand by its people and will even support them on the streets. CM Khattak will lead the demonstrations if the matter is not rectified, added the MNAs.
After the 18th Constitutional Amendment, provinces were conferred the power to generate their own electricity. Since then the K-P government has started projects in Malakand, Hazara and Swat.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2013.
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