Blackouts in Ramazan: K-P government says enough is enough

CM, provincial ministers and MPAs threaten to join protests.

Chief Minister K-P Pervez Khattak asked the water and power ministry to supply K-P with its full share of electricity. PHOTO: APP

PESHAWAR: Incensed by rampant blackouts, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government, led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, has given the federally-controlled Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) until tomorrow (Monday) to end power outages or else face a protests campaign.

“If the unjust load-shedding is not stopped by tomorrow, the chief minister along with his cabinet members and provincial legislators will stage a protest,” Chief Minister’s Special Assistant for Mineral and Mining Ziaullah Afridi told a news conference at Peshawar Press Club on Sunday.

The federal government had promised there would be no load-shedding during Sehri, Iftar and Taraweeh timings in Ramazan. Contrary to the promise, the entire province – including Peshawar – was subjected to ‘unjust’ outages during the holy month. Afridi described it as a “conspiracy against the PTI-led provincial government”.

“The K-P produces more electricity than its demand. Still the federal government is not supplying us with our quota of electricity which results in prolonged outages in the province,” he lamented. He was referring to Tarbela Dam, the largest hydropower generation plant with a capacity of producing 3,478 megawatts of electricity.

Afridi demanded the removal of the Peshawar Electric Supply Company’s chief executive who “has failed to control power outages during Sehr, Iftar and Taraweeh timings.”

Chief Minister Pervez Khattak also asked the water and power ministry to supply K-P with its full share of electricity.

While addressing PTI workers and office-bearers in his hometown of Nowshera, Khattak demanded immediate steps to address the shortage of grid stations in the province or else he would lead ‘protest demonstrations’ against Wapda.

The frequency and duration of power outages has not decreased in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa where some areas are made to go without electricity for up to 12 hours daily.  On Sunday, protest demonstrations were staged in different towns and cities of the province, including Dera Ismail Khan, Mardan, Swat and Peshawar.

No respite in Rawalpindi

The situation in other cities is no better. In some neighbourhoods of Rawalpindi and its suburbs, frequent power outages have led to shortage of water in the month of Ramazan.

In some areas, residents complained that they had no water supply for the past two days due to unannounced load-shedding. Tube-wells and pumping stations do not function due to load-shedding.

An official of the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO), who wished not be named, said that they had to carry out power outages due to shortfall.  “Power consumption during these hours increase manifold which result in tripping of feeders,” the official said.

Cognisant of the situation, Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif said that the government would initiate many new power projects to get rid of load-shedding once and for all. He added that new transmission lines would be installed and the existing distribution system upgraded in the country.

Speaking to Associated Press of Pakistan in Gujrat, the minister appealed to the people to cooperate with the government and show patience and extend their support to improve the electricity supply across the country. “We already have managed to reduce the duration of load-shedding and people are seeing the change.”

The minister requested consumers in urban areas to reduce their consumption of electricity. He added that the government was increasing the power supply, but the consumers must also try to curtail their consumption.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2013.

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