QUETTA: Nearly 48 hours after an act of sabotage Saturday night damaged two power pylons in the small Baloch town of Notal that set off a nationwide blackout, the state-owned electric utility that owns the transmission infrastructure has yet to even start the repair work.
The power pylons are owned by the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), the government-owned utility that owns almost the entire transmission infrastructure in the country. According to sources familiar with the matter, NTDC has not started the repair work on the 220 kilo-Volt (kV) pylons due to a lack of security at the small town in Naseerabad district in Balochistan. As a result, most of Balochistan has not had electricity supply for the last two days.
The federal government claimed that the attack at Notal is what triggered the nationwide blackout on Saturday night that has still left much of the country without power. However, the lack of urgency in the repair work at Notal suggests other factors may also be at play.
Officials and entities that belong to the federal government are the object of severe hostility in many parts of Balochistan and have often been attacked by Baloch separatist groups. Energy infrastructure – both natural gas pipelines as well as electricity grids – are particularly favoured targets of the separatists, since Balochistan generates a considerable amount of energy for the country, but due to poor infrastructure within the province, is able to use very little of it for itself.
The Notal attack was claimed by the banned separatist Baloch Republican Army. Nearly two weeks ago, separatists also blew up three pylons that support high-voltage transmission lines from Uch Power Plant and Guddu Thermal Power Plant.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2015.