LAHORE - Amid the reports that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has taken the notice of long hours of loadshedding, the country is having its history’s worst ever power-scarce Ramazan with the national grid facing around 60 percent gap between demand and supply of electricity.Millions of urbanites are facing up to 15 hours of loadshedding with consecutive power cuts of two to three hours even in the big cities, while there is virtually no electricity available in rural areas of the country.Contrary to the tall claims of government of minimising electricity outages in the holy month, the power cuts even hit consumers during sehar and iftar as well as traveh prayers. Presently, there are reports of sporadic minor protest demonstrations in different areas of the country against the massive unscheduled loadshedding but if the situation remained the same, the eruption of massive protests cannot be ruled out.The menace of loadshedding is creating severe water shortage too in congested localities of Lahore, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Hyderabad, Karachi and other cities, besides badly disrupting the routine life in Ramazan.The National Transmission and Dispatch Company Limited (NTDCL) is avoiding sending daily reports of electricity situation to media to avoid criticism. However, sources in power sector say that power distribution companies (Discos) are conducting average 16 hours loadshedding in their respective areas.The overall demand is hovering around 18,000MW against the total generation of less than 13,000MW. The irony is that around 2,000MW from the available generation is fixed for VVIP feeders and other installations and rest 11,000MW is being distributed among around 160 million consumers of 10 Discos— Iseco, Gepco, Lesco, Fesco, Mepco, Sepco, Hesco, Qesco, Pesco and Tesco. The irony is that around 2,000MW from the available generation is fixed for VVIP feeders and other installations while almost 20 percent of total generation is lost in the highly inefficient transmission and distribution systems, and the rest – between 8,000MW to 9,000MW – is being distributed among around 160 million consumers of 10 Discos: Iseco, Gepco, Lesco, Fesco, Mepco, Sepco, Hesco, Qesco, Pesco and Tesco.“Less than 9,000MW is available in the energy basket against the need more than 18,000MW. The exact shortfall is more than 9,000MW,” said the sources. They added: “The IPPs are contributing 6,000MW with the national grid while the combine generation of Wapda owned hydel and thermal power plants is mere 7,000MW. Around 2,000MW can be added in the total generation by arranging fuel for IPPs and thermal power plant and by further increasing hydel generation but the shortfall would still persist at around 5,000MW—average 10-hour load shedding.”An official of the power sector seeking anonymity said that only nature could provide relief to the millions of consumers otherwise the situation would remain almost same. He suggested that people should pray for rain or decrease in temperature which was currently touching 43 degree centigrade even in Lahore.The sources said the country’s transmission system was unable to bear the load of even 15,000MW in such a scorching heat. Almost 60 percent transformers of the power distribution companies cannot bear the load of electricity demand of the concerned areas but the localities where transformers are working are also seeing an increase in loadshedding owing to undeclared ‘saving the system’ policy.Meanwhile, a local TV reported that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed his displeasure over the unannounced loadshedding and intensive power cuts in the country during the holy month. He instructed the Water and Power Ministry to immediately present a report giving reasons of such extensive and unannounced loadshedding. He also asked the ministry to present before him the loadshedding schedule.He said that instead of giving relief to the common people, loadshedding is giving them sleepless nights, and the issue must be resolved on priority basis. The schedule announced by Wapda at the beginning of the Ramazan had planned loadshedding of six hours in urban areas and seven hours in the rural areas. The schedule was followed throughout the country during the first week of the month but since the temperatures have risen again, the loadshedding has gone beyond the limits that were set earlier by the government.The PM directed the ministry to take steps for upgrading the transmission system and distribution systems as early as possible. On July 4, Water and Power Secretary Nargis Sethi had stated before the standing committee in the parliament that the transmission and distribution system is so weak and outdated that it cannot carry more than 15,000 megawatts of electricity. Minister of State for Water and Power Chaudhry Abid Sher Ali had told the media in Faisalabad that transmission lines are being worked at and the system will be upgraded as early as possible.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 14-Jul-2014 here.