Hard choices: Closure of canals to lower power generation

Published: December 20, 2013
1,000 megawatts or less is the electricity expected to be generated through hydel power after canals are closed from December 26 DESIGN: TALHA KHAN

1,000 megawatts or less is the electricity expected to be generated through hydel power after canals are closed from December 26 DESIGN: TALHA KHAN


As hydroelectric power generation falls dramatically due to canal closure, coupled with cut in gas supplies to power plants, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar advised the nation on Thursday to expect longer load-shedding hours.

“Be ready for load-shedding in coming days and months as hydel generation is going to fall dramatically,” said Dar while addressing a conference on the integrated transit trade management system.

He said the closure of canals for annual cleaning would lead to decrease in hydroelectric power generation.

Hydel generation stood at 37% of the total power generated on Wednesday, according to statistics provided by the Ministry of Water and Power. On December 18, total power generation at peak time was 11,000 megawatts including 4,004MW of hydroelectric power against a total demand for 13,595MW. The shortfall was 2,600MW.


In the first week of December, hydel generation stood at 5,000MW, which is expected to come down to less than 1,000MW from December 26 when canals will be closed by the Indus River System Authority for five weeks.

The reduced generation will cause six to eight hours of load-shedding across the country, according to officials of the Ministry of Water and Power.

Instead of enhancing gas supply to the power plants, the federal government on Tuesday cut 85 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of gas supply to the power plants to divert it to industrial units in violation of its own National Power Policy, which gives priority to the power sector over the industrial sector.

This will further reduce power generation by at least 500MW, increasing the duration of outages by another one and half hours.

Dar defended the decision of diverting gas to the industries, arguing that this was necessary to maintain the momentum of economic growth, which picked up in the first quarter of the current fiscal year. The gross domestic product grew 5% in the July-September quarter compared to the corresponding period of previous fiscal year.


Dar said in these difficult times, the nation had to make a choice between comparatively more load-shedding in winter when it was bearable and gain dividends of growth, or shut down the industries and increase unemployment.

The minister said the government was also trying to bring a thermal power plant back on the national grid, which had been shut down due to administrative reasons.

He said the government’s decision to clear Rs503 billion of circular debt not only saved Rs55 billion annually on account of interest charges, but also added 1,700MW to the system.

There was daily load-shedding of 16 to 18 hours in the country during the last months of the previous government due to non-payment of this amount, the finance minister stated. The government was working to find long-term solutions to the energy problem, he said.

But, according to experts, Pakistan knows its energy problems and also has solutions. “Pakistan’s problem is weak administrative authority,” said Ilhan Ozturk, Associate Professor of Economics, Cag University Turkey.

Ozturk delivered a lecture on Energy Dependency and Energy Security, arranged by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics. Ozturk said mismanagement and lack of administrative powers were the main causes of energy crisis in Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • polpot
    Dec 20, 2013 - 3:32AM

    “He said the closure of canals for annual cleaning would lead to decrease in hydroelectric power generation.”
    Remember that electricty generated thru Hydel Projects is the cheapest !!


  • polpot
    Dec 20, 2013 - 3:39AM

    Clarity re Shortfall
    Current Demand Supply Gap 2600 MW
    Additional Gap due to lower generation from Hydel 4000 MW
    Additional Gap due to lower generation from IPP 500 MW
    Projected Total Shortfall : 7100 MW


  • Just a whisper
    Dec 20, 2013 - 8:08AM

    Before people start bashing Mr. Dar or the PML N or the Pirme Minister let me share my opinion about this news. The first thing is that as per statistics given above it’s believed that we have slightly more capacity compared to the demand. The reason we are going to face loadshedding is because of closing down of the canal. Now supplying more power to the industrial sector is actually a need rather than a want.

    Recently, pakistan has been provided duty free access to European markets. Something that we have been striving for an eternity and something that we weren’t prepare for before because of 12 to 16 hours of loadshedding. This status would enable Pakistan to export more than one billion US dollars worth of products to the international markets. Altogether, it will help increase the country’s exports by at least US $2 billion. In order them to complete their orders they need this supply.
    In these tough time we need to be More Pakistani than supporting our parites. We have gone through worse and this is just bad. Whatever the wrong doings PM nawaz sharif or his party has done the person has enough credibility to bring china, eu and india on the table.

    The last statement by the EXPERT when was it said during this administration or the previous? We are not sure. There are administrative issues but for now I decide to ignore it.

    I am a PTI supporter and I voted for IK but lets be pakistanis also.


  • Tausif
    Dec 20, 2013 - 3:37PM

    @Just a whisper,

    I fully support your view. We do Pakistan and ourselves more damage when we divide ourselves into parties and tribes. Blind following or personality cults in politics (and other walks of life) has destroyed our ability to differentiate between what is right and wrong or what is good for the people as a whole.


  • optimist
    Dec 21, 2013 - 1:49AM

    It is too early to start blaming PML N, especially when we can clearly see that this govt is at least trying hard to put things right. This govt is thousand times better than Zardari govt who didn’t care at all.


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