ISLAMABAD - Agencies - Panic gripped various government departments in the federal capital on Tuesday when Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali ordered disconnection of power supply to the offices not paying electricity dues.
The target of disconnection included President House, PM Secretariat, Parliament House, Parliament lodges, Sindh House, Balochistan House, National Database Registration Authority, Cantonment Board, Motorway police and the Capital Development Authority.
The move apparently came also as a bid to connect to the common people who have been facing unannounced power outages with increasing frequency amid the rising temperatures.
The Supreme Court came up with immediate clarification that it had paid electricity dues, while heads of more than a dozen other departments faced an embarrassing situation as their officials in Islamabad rushed to make partial payments to avoid power disconnection.
The spokesman for Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) told The Nation that an emergency desk had been established at its head office for receiving outstanding amounts from defaulters, adding that departments that owed money to the company were rushing to make payments after the minister’s warning.
Pakistan is blighted by rolling power cuts, caused in part by people not paying bills, with government offices among the worst offenders. Ordinary people struggle without electricity for 12 to 18 hours a day in the blistering heat, but up till now little action had been taken against recalcitrant bureaucrats working in air-conditioned offices.
Iesco officials said that electricity supply to more than 100 other government offices would be disconnected over non-payment of bills. The power company on Tuesday disconnected power supply to 18 government offices, including municipal administration (TMA) Rawal Town in Rawalpindi, for two hours, brining activities in the defaulter offices to a standstill. The temporary power suspension also caused interrupted water supply in Rawalpindi-Islamabad as tube wells that supply drinking water came to a standstill due to unavailability of electricity. The power suspension also affected water filtration plants.
According to Iesco authorities, government offices in Islamabad were power defaulters to the tune of Rs3.1 billion and had failed to pay their outstanding power bills for months. The Iesco spokesman said that several government departments, including Pak Secretariat, approached his office for paying electricity bills. He said they hoped that all other government departments would also clear their outstanding dues. The Capital Development Authority, owes the Iesco Rs2.36 billion. The President’s Secretariat, which is the head of state’s office and residence, owes Rs28 million, while lawmakers’ residential block, Parliament Lodges, have to pay Rs20 million. Officials handling financial matters in CDA told this scribe that the amount was too big to be paid in few days, adding that top officials of the civic agency would request Iesco to allow it pay the dues in instalments.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Minister Abid Sher Ali announced an “indiscriminate drive” to recover unpaid bills and warned that all offices and customers who had defaulted would be cut off.
He said that the overall power sector receivable has piled up to more than Rs470 billion. He said private sector has to pay Rs366 billion, while remaining is to be paid by public sector. “Nazir Feeder of Sukkur Electric Supply Company has 91 per cent line losses and only 70 consumers out of total 998 were paying their bills.”
About the provinces, the minister said that Sindh government has to pay Rs56 billion outstanding amount, Punjab Rs 3.4 billion while Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan each has to pay Rs 2.5 billion outstanding bills. He said that Azad Jammu and Kashmir government also owed Rs33 billion. The minister said the PM has constituted a committee comprising the minister of water and power, state minister for water and power and the information minister to take up the matter with the AJK government.
Abid Sher Ali said that he told Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a meeting on Monday that if markets were closed around 8pm then 1,000 megawatts of electricity can be saved.
As state minister’s campaign against defaulters and illegal connections is gaining momentum so is the loadshedding in the country. According to today’s power data, power generation at 12:15 hours from Hydel was 3,920 MW, thermal 1,680 MW, IPP’s 5650 MW, total generation was 11,250MW, whereas demand reached to 13,850 MW, and the total shortfall swelled to 2600 MW. The shortfall has soared up from 2,000 megawatt in last couple of days and due to this increasing shortfall, loadshedding in different parts of the country has increased.