LAHORE - Putting aside the tall claims of minimising power crisis during Ramazan, the government has started hitting the consumers hard countrywide with worst load shedding in scorching heat.
The National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC) has stopped sending daily electricity demand and generation situation to media, however, sources say that the national grid is facing more than 50 per cent gap between demand and supply.
The urban consumers are facing around 14 hours shutdown, while virtually there is no electricity in rural limits. The Ramazan observers are even facing power cuts during Sehr and Iftar as well.
The sources said that electricity demand on Friday was more than 17,000MW while the overall generation was less than 13,000MW. From the available electricity, around 2000MW has been fixed for VIP feeders and KESC while the rest is being divided among the 10 power distribution companies of the country.
Power distribution companies (Discos) of Punjab are conducting 16-hours average load shedding, said the sources. The Lesco on Friday conducted 14-hour load shedding in Lahore with consecutive power cuts of two to three hours at some feeders. There are reports that the company is favouring some posh localities in electricity supply. Underdeveloped and slum localities of the provincial metropolis are under the grip of 14-hour shutdown while there is maximum 10-hour load shedding in posh localities like DHA, Gulberg and Model Town.
According to some reports, the Lesco has been unable to procure transformers since June last year for various reasons. Moreover, the company has virtually run out of transformers and has been unable or unwilling to get repaired the burnt-out transformers, turning the situation critical.
The consumers of other big cities of Punjab like Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, and Multan are facing worst power crisis. The power cuts for 10 to 12 hour in the Mepco region and 14 to 16 hours in the surrounding rural parts, is adding to the troubles of consumers.
There are 16 hours average load shedding in KP, Balochistan and Sindh. The scorching heat of the summers is making life difficult for the fast observers across the country. A local TV reported that State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali admitted government’s failure in controlling the power cuts as promised during the month of Ramazan.
The twin cities of Taxila and Wah Cantt have also been braving worst power outages, especially during Sehr, causing great inconvenience to the fast-observers, as the Islamabad Electricity Supply Company (Iesco) failed to rationalise loadshedding during Iftar and Sehri timings.
Earlier on July 6, Federal Information Minister Pervez Rasheed had assured the masses that no loadshedding would be conducted in the month of Ramazan during Sehr and Iftar. Also, the government had paid off Rs503 billion in loans to power companies in just four weeks in order to boost power generation.
According to reports, the areas where the people suffered from load shedding problem included Museum feeder, Margalla sub division, Cantonment area, Railway colony, Bilal colony, Haideri Town, Museum road, Hassan Colony, Lalarukh, Nawababad and other areas of the city.
Moreover, it has observed that citizens of the garrison city of Taxila, connected to Museum feeder had a thirst-inducing second week of Ramazan, as high humidity combined with an increase in power outages. In this area, power outages seemed to following a 12-hour suspension schedule.
Power suspensions, particularly during Sehr, created difficulties for many especially women who had to prepare food their family members in dark. The outages irked residents, who were expecting reduced load-shedding during Ramazan.
"The government should increase power generation during Ramazan or suspend power only in areas where consumers are not paying their bills," suggested Zubaida Perveen, a resident of Cantonment area.
"We are daily-waged workers and have to work on daily basis. We can only rest for a few hours at night, but loadshedding deprives us of that as well," said Abdullah, a labourer in Bilal Colony.
Expressing concern on continuing load shedding in many areas at timings of Sehr and Iftar, local leaders of different political parties including ruling PML-N has demanded action against those involved in tormenting fasting-observing people.
JI local leader and former MPA from Wah Cantt Prof Waqas Khan said that the government had announced not to indulge in load shedding at Sehr and Ifitar times; however, practically many areas of Taxila are witnessing prolonged load shedding. He asked the government to take action against those behind loadshedding and ensure smooth supply of electricity during the holy month.
Consumers complained that despite of stepping up of complaint cell, the Iesco has failed to entertain the complaints. The Complaint Cell made by Iesco could not entertain any single complaint, while a mobile complaint cell also seemed to fail completely.
When contacted Iesco complaint and information centre, a spokesperson, Manan, said that he was unaware of the load shedding during the said timings.
Margalla Sub division official Irfan Shah said that the electricity had been suspended by higher authorities from 2am to 3am through switching off grid station, adding that he was unaware of any load shedding schedule during Sehr.
Consumers are of the view that there was some authorities in Iesco, ‘more powerful’ than the premiere and Power minister ordering suspension of electricity during Sehr and Iftar.