LAHORE - Despite the strikes, agitations and suffering of traders, students, industries, labourers, agriculture farmers and ordinary people, the worst load shedding continued on Monday, with more than 50 per cent shortfall in the national grid.

Major cities in the country are experiencing over 12 hours of electricity shutdown with two to three hours of persistent power cuts while there is virtually no electricity in rural areas.

It was learnt that power distribution companies were directed to conduct above 18 hours of power shutdown in rural areas’ feeders. But the duration is comparatively ‘shorter’ in urban areas to avoid the sharp criticism from the media and public.

The Sunday’s shortfall, according to defunct Pakistan Electric Power Company, was 3,800MW. Sources told TheNation that the national grid was short of more than 5,000MW and there is no hope that the supply and demand gap would come down to 3,500MW during the summer months.

The situation is the worst for agriculture farmers, as they have limited water availability to irrigate their land. Mukhtar Tarar, a farmer who approached TheNation on phone from Jalalpur Bhatyan to complain that there was not water in their area to irrigate the land or to water the animals. According to him, the hand-pumps were unable to fulfil the total demand and as they have become rare with the advances of time, more than a dozen houses were now dependant on one hand-pump for water. He said that electricity had made an appearance for about 20 to 30 minutes after four hours of loadshedding and then disappeared again.

The condition is no different in rural areas of Mandibahauddin, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Jhang, Toba Tek Sing, Sahiwal, Khanewal and Multan while areas of Southern Punjab, interior Sindh, Khyber PK and Balochistan were experiencing the worst shutdowns.

Lahore is facing more than 12 hours of power outages with alternate hours of loadshedding. Traders complain that the power cuts have ruined their businesses while the households which cannot afford generators and UPS are also forced to live seething in the summer heat. Water supply in majority of Lahore has also been affected due to the menace.

The irony is that the incumbent government has assumed complete silence over the situation and appears to be doing nothing in this regard, complained a resident of Samanabad. “The rulers are not bothered by loadshedding, why should they? They are enjoying all luxuries of life, their children are living abroad and they don’t have to worry about the mosquitoes which spread dengue, they are only here to rule us,” he regretted.

On the other hand, distributing company PEPCO, which has been defunct for the last six months, has nothing in hand to bridge the supply and demand gap. But the company’s managers issue a statement on daily basis and make claims, following the directions of the government. However, the on ground situation is much different as the power sector has yet to recover billions of rupees from provinces, KESC and private institutions. The huge circular debt is a second issue.

PEPCO claims that the current shortfall is due to the decrease in electricity generation from the Tarbella and Mangla dams, as they have reached dead lever and hydel generation has decreased by 50 per cent. According to the power distribution company IPPs are generating 5,783MW while GENCOs are sharing 1,862MW for the total electricity requirement.