Energy management: PM Nawaz grills top bureaucrat over blackouts

Published: June 21, 2015
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PHOTO: AP

PHOTO: AP

ISLAMABAD: 

After the water and power ministry publicly declared its inability to honour the prime minister’s commitment of zero power outages during critical times in Ramazan, Nawaz Sharif reportedly grilled Water and Power Secretary Younas Dagha and ordered him to address the outages that have caused widespread protests in the country.

Meanwhile, protests against frequent, long-hours power outages continued unabated, especially in southern and central districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where incensed protesters clashed with riot police when they attempted to damage the offices of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda).

Read: Power outages: PM takes notice as protests break out on first Ramazan

On Thursday, the Cabinet Committee on Energy, chaired by the prime minister, announced that all domestic consumers would be provided uninterrupted power supply one hour before and after Sehr and between 6:30 pm and 10:30 pm to cover Iftar and Taraweeh times. By Friday morning, however, the water and power ministry announced that the national grid had been overwhelmed by demand and that it would be unable to honour the cabinet’s commitment, leading to protests in some parts of the country. On Saturday, Secretary Dagha was summoned to the prime minister’s office where he submitted a report on why the ministry was struggling with electricity demand.

The report stated that the national grid was able to provide uninterrupted power to domestic consumers during critical times in 75 to 80% of the country on the first day of Ramazan. However, some parts of the country, which fall under the service areas of the state-owed where Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) and Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco), faced some outages, which caused a large number of people there to lodge complaints.

Read: PM’s pledge on load-shedding suffers blow

The problem appears to be the massive heat wave that has seen temperatures skyrocket to above 40 degrees Celsius in many parts of the country over the past three days. In addition, the times that the cabinet ordered for there to be zero power outages are also the times with peak demand, even after shutting off power to the entire industrial sector of the economy. As a result, peak demand has soared to 21,000MW, while supply has barely managed to reach 16,000MW.

While the national grid has a theoretical capacity to produce just over 23,500MW, some of the largest state-owned power plants are effectively dysfunctional, resulting in actual production capacity at 17,500MW. Power generation on Saturday stood at 14,700MW compared to a demand of 19,200MW, said ministry officials, adding that demand went down largely because the weather improved. Another 900MW of power was added to the system after more water was released by the government from the two large dams in the country.

Read: Heat wave: Advent of Ramazan marked by increased power cuts in Sukkur

Meanwhile, the water and power ministry issued a statement on Saturday, claiming the improvement was due to their efforts.

“We have been able to improve the electricity supply situation and 93% of urban and 86% of rural areas have been provided uninterrupted electricity for the last Iftar, Taraweeh and Sehr times as announced by the ministry,” said the statement.

The ministry had also inaccurately claimed that it was able to achieve a 16,000MW power generation level for the first time in Pakistani history. However, government officials point out that the Zardari administration was able to exceed 16,100MW during its tenure.

In addition, management of the state-owned segments of the energy sector appears to have gotten worse under the Nawaz administration. In some areas, “the recovery of electricity bills in the PPP government has been near 100% but has come down to 87% in the current government,” said one official.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2015.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Sami
    Jun 21, 2015 - 11:09AM

    Nation gave you mandate not for Metros but to overcome electricity shortfall. These are yourbad policies which people are paying. Rather focusing and giving subsidies to power sector you are kind on metros. Don’t grill anybody else, grill your younger brother who has changed the priorities of your government.Recommend

  • trollistan
    Jun 21, 2015 - 11:34AM

    If our salary is increasing and we still cant feed ourselves. Best to commit communal suicide OR at the very least change our MBA/economic masters with professionals who can predict better than these bimbos.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Jun 21, 2015 - 11:36AM

    This is eye wash…….politicians have had more than 7 years to improve things but all they did was loot and plunder…….this lot will never improve things.Recommend

  • shahid
    Jun 21, 2015 - 12:16PM

    Dear PM, grilling a bureaucrat won’t solve it, investing on this front will. When you spend all your time and money on metros, this will happen.Recommend

  • raider
    Jun 21, 2015 - 12:37PM

    noora league is going to be failed 3rd time??Recommend

  • Jun 21, 2015 - 1:19PM

    We have experienced team, we will overcome these problems! You just have to vote for us in the next term as well..Recommend

  • Saleem
    Jun 21, 2015 - 2:37PM

    This is the result of Nepotism. When you assign the critical ministries within family instead of based on merit then result is null. Why not grill Abid Sher Ali about this situation ? Is it because he is family member and can exist without impunity ?Recommend

  • SolutionMaster
    Jun 21, 2015 - 2:57PM

    Ban use of Air conditioners in all government institutions and affiliates,, It will solve problem….Making worry faces will serve nothing….Recommend

  • Timorlane
    Jun 21, 2015 - 4:34PM

    yawn…Recommend

  • ZAK
    Jun 21, 2015 - 8:26PM

    Loadshedding is largerly because of mismanagement and poor maintenance of Power plants.

    The installed capacity is never less than current demand.As for as AC load is concerned the class which usese ACs were already using before these crises.

    There are some officials in WAPDA who are not under control of Govt.They want to politicise every action.Honesty is lacking in these deptt.Recommend

  • Jibran
    Jun 21, 2015 - 9:33PM

    Asian tiger?Recommend

  • Mrs Juicy Gossips
    Jun 21, 2015 - 10:57PM

    @SolutionMaster: Ban wearing clothes, will further solve all problems. Easy way to keep cool.Recommend

  • Jun 22, 2015 - 3:51AM

    METRO = Minimum Electricity for The Residents
    Of Pakistan
    Just pray that our “Men of Steel” have mercy and
    Do not build orange line in Lahore or we will not have even water, bread or clothes. Recommend

  • solutionMaster
    Jun 22, 2015 - 12:47PM

    @Mrs Juicy Gossips:
    Thats Great, Let us help our country, I will demonstrate my Idea and you should yours…!!Recommend

  • Mrs Juicy Gossips
    Jun 23, 2015 - 11:59AM

    @solutionMaster: My dear, this is Ramadan right now. But afterwards, ‘juicy’ is the word !Recommend

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