ISLAMABAD - Amid reprimand from the Senate’s Standing Committee on Water and Power on electricity loadshedding, installation of new plants on imported coal and mega corruption in Discos, Gencos, and Nepra, the Ministry of Water and Power on Friday for the first time in three years held obsolete plants responsible for the blackouts.

The total power generation of the plants is 21,000 MW, but over the time these machines has become obsolete and now only can generate 16,000 MW, said Additional Secretary, Water and Power, Umer Rasool, while answering questions of members during the Senate’s Standing Committee meeting, called to investigate the reasons for electricity shortfall in the country.

The meeting turned into hot discussion when the Ministry of Water and Power and NTDC presented different figures of power generation and deficit. The absence of the Water and Power secretary from the meeting was felt badly.

The industry is close, general public is suffering, but the ministry officials are just manipulating data, so much so that Water and Power Secretary, Younis Dhaga, is absent from this most important meeting, members pointed out.

Surrendering to hawkish questions of the Senate committee members, the ministry officials finally came up with some new data. The officials for the first time in last many years admitted that actual deficit during peak season was more than 8,000 MW.

The total power generation (latest) is 14,000 MW, hydel generation is 6400 MW, IPPs, 7000 MW, whereas Gencos are producing 2700 MW, whereas the demand has been around 19,000 MW, During Ramadan, at times, deficit swelled to 8866 MW, said the Ministry of Water and Power official.

The officials mentioned that in KP power requirement was between 2200-2300 MW, Lesco 4000 MW, whereas demand of Mepco was 3000 MW.

Answering question that why the ministry was not utilising the generation capacity to its full, the officials admitted that in papers, total installed capacity was more than the peak demand of the country but due to obsolete machinery power producing capacity has been actually reduced to 16,000 MW only.

It is pertinent to mention that according to Ministry of Water and Power data, the peak demand in the last week of July was around 23,000 MW, whereas the production stood at 16,000 MW.

The ministry in its statement issued on June 19, despite a demand of 21000 MW, but showed the deficit to 1300 MW, merely.

It was the contradiction in data between different department under the Ministry of Water and Power which disturbed many members. The committee reprimanded the ministry over manipulating data and discussed involvement of the minister officials and distribution company staff in the power theft, appointments on political basis or after receiving "brief cases".

In Water and Power Ministry brief case is a term used in reference to huge bribe money, candidate pay to get a top slot position in any of the department.

Senator Daud Khan Achakzai said that ministry mention illegal connections in Qesco. He said no theft could be done without the help of top to bottom staff. He asked how many officials of the distribution company have been terminated over corruption charges or power theft.

Shortfall in Balochistan is 680 MW, and around 18-20 hours loadshedding is carried out in different parts of the province, whereas the ministry claims 8-hour loadshedding in the country, Achakzai said. The committee recommended allocating more funds for power generation in next development budget.

The committee directed the officials to submit a detailed report of total power generation, total deficit, and total power theft data in next meeting with signature of all the stakeholders.

The policies of the government regarding power generation were also discussed in detail.

National Transmission and Dispatch Company MD, Waqar Zikria, said that no government learnt any lesson from the past blunders and instead of opting for power generation through coal, oil-fed plants were promoted, even today.

“The price of oil from 17 per barrel jumped to more than 100 but we are today talking about running plants on LNG; what would happen to power mix, if Arab countries increased oil and gas prices, in coming days,” he said adding in next five years, the power demand would increase much and if country's generation increased to 25000 MW, even then loadshedding would be inevitable.

Senator Nisar opposed the policy of installing imported coal-based power plants in areas where local coal was available.

The Nepra negotiates bribe while granting tariff, Zikria revealed. There are more than dozen cases regarding issuance of new tariff which were strongly condemned by the stakeholders. But Nepra always remained indifferent to all allegations of corruption and bribe.

Zikria said that instead of installing new power plants on loan, power should be generated on available resources on self reliance basis.

According to sources in the Ministry of Water and Power, Younis Dhaga did not participate in the meeting due to his bad health.

Last year, then Water and Power Secretary Nargis Sethi, also stopped appearing before the meetings after she was held responsible for long spells of loadshedding and excess bills during and after Ramadan. Within a month, she was sent on forced retirement.

Would history repeat itself, as the Minister and State Minister for Water and Power, claim that all operational responsibility of running the business fall on the shoulders of the Water and Power secretary.