The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government on Monday asked the federal government to hand over the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) to K-P to ensure efficient production.
Addressing a press conference at the CM Secretariat, K-P Chief Minister (CM) Pervez Khattak held the federal government responsible for the province’s electricity woes, claiming the former carries out forced load-shedding and does not give K-P its quota of electricity. Khattak also took the Peshawar Electric Supply Company’s (Pesco) chief to task, asking him to refrain from making ‘misguided’ statements.
Responding to a question regarding differences in his and Pesco chief’s statements regarding the reason for power outages in K-P, the chief minister immediately called in Pesco Chief Tariq Sadozai to the briefing and told him not to make false statements.
The CM had earlier claimed the federal government was not giving K-P its full share of electricity, while the old distribution system is also a hindrance in ensuring smooth power supply. The Pesco chief, on the other hand, had claimed K-P receives its full quota from the national grid, but the old distribution system was responsible for power outages.
Khattak said Sadozai had briefed him thrice on the issue. “He (Sadozai) told me one thing and told the public something else,” said Khattak, adding if the province was receiving its full share, then the outages should only be five or six hours long.
Speaking directly to Sadozai, the CM said: “You told us (the government) we are not getting our full quota of power. Do not issue wrong statements otherwise we will take action against you.”
“We will search for a solution to the power crisis and a coalition delegation from K-P will soon meet the federal minister for water and power in this regard,” added Khattak.
The chief minister stressed the federal government should immediately put an end to unscheduled load-shedding. “We should be given a schedule for the outages,” he demanded, adding his government had no intentions of developing differences with the centre, but would launch protests if it did not get its rightful share. “It is the federal government’s responsibility to fix issues related to power.”
K-P Minister for Finance Sirajul Haq also spoke at the press briefing. “The centre should relieve Wapda of its Rs3 trillion debt and hand it over to K-P for efficient power production,” he said.
“Why is the government after controversial projects?” Haq questioned. “Instead of building Kalabagh and Bhasha dams they should give the money to K-P as we have 20 feasible points from where 25,000 megawatts of hydel power can be generated.”
Other leaders from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s coalition parties in the government, including Qaumi Watan Party senior leader Sikandar Sherpao and Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan parliamentary leader Shahram Tarakzai, were also present on the occasion.
Sherpao in his address termed power outages in the province a grave concern. He said the issue cannot be resolved by simply replacing Wapda officials; the federal government needs seriousness of purpose to resolve it.
Tarakai said outages combined with voltage fluctuations have adversely affected the province’s economy.
All four coalition partners unanimously held the federal government responsible for K-P’s power woes and demanded a solution to the problem. Additionally, the coalition partners announced they would support each other’s candidates in the upcoming by-elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2013.