The Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power on Wednesday lambasted the government for sending inflated electricity bills to the consumers during last couple of months despite the country is facing worst power shortage.

Members of the Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power came down hard on the officials of Ministry, Wapda and NTDC for sending inflated electricity bills to the masses during last two months. Committee chairman Senator Zahid Khan remarked that the country is facing severe power shortage but the government has fetched Rs70 billion from the power consumers without noting the reading of meters. He asked to provide name of the authority concerned who asked to send inflated bills. He said no one could send inflated bills without approval of high officers of the DISCOs. He added that the government had changed the slabs, which resulted into higher power bills. The Ministry of Water and Power should inform the committee about the punishment of the responsible for sending inflated electricity bills, he added.

Zahid Khan said that the prime minister has taken notice after the people registered their protest. However, the government did not provide any relief to the masses despite taking notice. He proposed the government should disconnect the electricity connections of the political leaders who are not paying their bills. Similarly, he demanded the government to give one month period to the masses to pay their due bills. The Senate’s body recommended for reforming the transmission and distribution lines of Wapda. Speaking on the occasion, Senator Nisar Mohammad said that Nepra is responsible for the inflated bills issue. He demanded to constitute a sub-committee to probe the issue.

However, the Nepra officials did not agree with the committee regarding overbilling, as they said the government has sent bills of the electricity consumed. Therefore, the committee agreed to hold the audit of the Nepra in next 30 days to review the inflated bills issue.

The Senate Standing on Water and Power also discussed the award tendering of Neelum Jhelum transmission lines. The committee was informed that the government has cancelled the tender on the recommendation of the Standing Committee. The committee was informed that earlier cost of the project was Rs23 billion, which was against the rules. However, now the project would be completed with Rs16 billion.

The Wapda chairman informed the committee that the government would complete Neelum Jhelum project within due date, as the work on the project is under process. Senator Nisar Khan showed serious concerns over the delay in Munda Dam, and said that the project was vital for agriculture, water and electricity. He added that the government has not allocated sufficient funds for the important projects.

 The committee should summon Secretaries of Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Planning and Development to explain the delay in Munda Dam project, he remarked.

In her remarks, Senator Khalida Perveen said that the government is spending billions of rupees on Metro Bus project, which should be diverted to the power generation. The country is facing severe electricity shortage, which affected the lives of every segment of the society, she added.

The Pesco chief executive informed the committee that students of Peshawar University had completed a project, which could control the electricity theft by 80 percent.