The more you save, the more you have

Hafeez Tunio April 23, 2010

KARACHI: Five divisional committees have been formed to fortnightly review electricity conservation in the province, Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah told the media after a cabinet meeting on Friday.

Shah said that the five committees, formed of representatives of coalition partners in the Sindh government, would take all stakeholders, including traders, industrialists and landlords into confidence from today and hold frequent meetings with them to review the situation. He added that trader grievances regarding the closure of markets at around 8 pm would also be addressed.

“If they implement the decision then there would not be any load shedding during working hours.” The cabinet welcomed the federal government’s efforts at energy conservation, saying that it is yet another achievement which will help conserve 1,300 megawatts (MW) daily. According to Shah, Karachi will not suffer from a reduced electricity supply as furnace oil will be provided to the Bin Qasim Power Generation Plant to produce the amount cut by the Pakistan Electric Power Company. Outlining the conservation plan, Shah said that 100 MW would be saved with a 50 per cent reduction in use at government departments, including the Chief Minister House and Governor House.

The measures include not turning on the air conditioning till 11 am. Another 313 MW could be reduced by putting off lights on billboards and turning on every alternate street light; 70 MW would be saved by turning off commercial lights; 850 MW would be saved by making Saturday a public holiday and increasing the work day by an hour; 150 MW would be saved by opening wedding halls for only three hours, 9 pm to 12 am. In addition, the federal government will take steps to increase electricity generation, Shah said, including making around 12 independent power producers operational by December this year.

However, when Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani asked the provinces to pay Water and Power Development Authority outstanding dues, Sindh refused, saying that the province has already overpaid the authority and that the case is now in court. “The Sindh government [also] asked the [federal] government to invest in Thar Coal to generate electricity,” Shah said, adding that it would be a long-term strategy and require billions of rupees worth of investment.

Meanwhile, reportedly the Muttahida Qaumi Movement protested the closure of schools on Saturday, arguing that as schools don’t have air-conditioning, the step wouldn’t save much electricity. Shah responded to the criticism by saying that the decision could be reviewed two weeks later. Talking to The Express Tribune, advisor to chief minister on investment Zubair Motiwalla said that the Sindh government is going to generate 300 MW under public-private partnership from Badin Coal Field, which would be completed in two years.