ISLAMABAD - With the rise in mercury, the electricity shortfall on Sunday crossed 5,000 megawatts and worst load shedding was witnessed in different parts of the country whereas many areas of the capital city remained powerless for 12 consecutive hours.
The electricity load shedding duration in the capital crossed 10 hours and different areas of the capital witnessed blackouts every alternate hour. The Chak Shahzad, Bannigala, Lehtrar, Shakarparian, Burma Town, Sawan, and other adjacent areas remained in dark from 4pm to 5am on Sunday.
According to IESCO helpline the blackout was due to some technical fault in G-06 sub-division and it affected Chak Shahzad, Bannigala, Lehtrar, Shakarparian, Burma Town, Sawan, and other adjacent areas.
To protest the blackout, hundreds of residents blocked Murree Road on Saturday night and stormed the IESCO office. The protesters shouted slogans against the government and said that after assuming power, rulers had forgotten their all promises of providing relief to a common man.
“They made big promises during their election campaign but now they have forgotten us, prices of daily use commodities have doubled after the formation of new government, joblessness increased to many fold and now there is no electricity,” said Raja Israr, a protester at Murree Road.
During a visit to these areas it was learnt that residents were in miserable condition as they relied on community tube wells for drinking water.
In absence of electricity, there was no water in densely populated areas of Shakrial, Sawan and other adjacent places.
IESCO Chief Engineer Fayyaz Hussain Siddiqui, talking to The Nation, said that protesters were so furious that the staff ran away to save their lives. Protesters damaged an IESCO vehicle also.
Spokesman said he did not know how much area of the capital was affected by the blackout for 12 consecutive hours. However, he said the fault developed after a consumer’s generator pushed back the electricity and lines burnt. Load shedding by other supply companies of the country on Saturday and Sunday, crossed 14 hours in some areas. According to The Nation Lahore correspondent, Iftikhar Alam, in rural areas power cuts duration crossed 12 hours.
“In Dharampura, Bhaghbanpura, Shahdara and Walled City, up to 12 hours of load management was witnessed, in rural areas up to 14 hours whereas in posh areas like Model Town, the outages remained in 7-8 hours bracket,” he said.
Area wise second largest power supply company of the country, Mepco, carried out up to 14 hours of power cuts in rural areas, and 8-10 hours in city.
According to The Nation Multan’s correspondent, Rafiq Qureshi, due to long hours of load shedding, cotton, country’s main crop was affected due to shortage of water.
In most of the cotton growing areas of southern Punjab tube-wells are used for irrigation purposes.
Quoting officials, Qureshi said due to water shortage the cotton yield this year would miss the target and only 85 percent of the total target would be achieved if other factors remained same and stable.
According to Pakistan Meteorological Department the mercury shoot up to 43 centigrade in Islamabad, whereas 43-44 C was recorded in Lahore and more extreme weather in different parts of Southern Punjab.
In Dalbandin, Bhakkar, temperature was recorded at 47°C during last 24 hours, Dadu, Bannu 46°C, while in Risalpur, Sibbi, DI Khan and Kohat it was 45°C.
Despite prevailing very hot weather and long hours of blackouts in the country, Secretary Water and Power Nargis Sethi received all OK report on Sunday evening during her videoconference with Discos officials.
According to sources the official data showed electricity shortfall of 3,400 MW and 6-10 hours of load shedding was reported being carried out by Discos.
This fabricated data, according to officials, showed total power generation and total demand, but actual line losses due to power theft or mismanagement were never disclosed, it was learnt. According to sources, actual shortfall due to line losses and power theft was more than 5,000 MW during peak hours. It was also learnt that Sethi seems helpless against alleged powerful mafia of her ministry, who is allegedly making big money by stealing electricity from national grid and selling it to industry or other consumers.
Despite reports from different cities, no water and power officer admitted that up to 14 hours of load shedding was observed in some parts of the country.
It was learnt that some Disco heads, had been allegedly stealing electricity and giving high bribes to water and power ministry officials, so that their misdeeds could be covered up.
Sources alleged that the top boss of Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), Zargham Khan, is also part of the racket, stealing electricity and making money.
It was also learnt that the alleged corrupt Disco chiefs have political support and they are beyond control of Sethi.
Ali Zulfiqar Kiyani, the general manager (GM) of the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco), was reportedly suspended recently over allegation of money embezzlement worth Rs76.6 million. Lesco CEO Arshad Rafique and Director Operations Mehboob Ali were handed over to FIA over corruption charges and stealing electricity this month.
Despite surfacing these high-level corruption cases, no enquiry results were announced and the racket is yet to be unearthed completely.
It was also learnt that the blackout in Islamabad was also to teach Sethi that she did not have any authority over Disco chiefs.
It was also learnt that the IESCO officials wasted 12 hours in restoring the electricity whereas there was no major fault at all.
Iesco spokesman denied the allegations that Saturday’s blackout in Islamabad was a result of brawl between Sethi and Iesco officials but he could not explain why it took them 12 hours to restore electricity. Iesco has small area as compared to Qesco or Mepco.
Secretary Nargis Sethi, when asked about the alleged corruption going on in her department under the supervision of Pepco head, said it was not right to point out a single person.
“We cannot point out any one in particular,” she said. Answering a question that whether she had any plans to remove Zargham from his position, she said it was too early to say anything.