ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Monday questioned why 50 per cent loadshedding is observed when, according to Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), the gap between generation and requirement of electricity is 30 per cent.

Zargham Ghulam Ishaq Khan, managing director Pepco and NTDC, informed that total electricity production today (Monday) stands at 12,770MW, in addition to KESC 670MW, while the requirement is 17,000 MW. He told that according to rules, their number one priority is defence and strategic installations and the second number are the schools and hospitals. However, the Chief Justice said that their first priority should be consumers who pay taxes.

On the bench’s query, the MD Pepco informed that Rs 384 billion electricity bills are outstanding against the private and public sectors. He said out of the total amount Rs 239 billion is against some individuals. The areas of non-paying electricity bills are Sukhar, Hyderabad, KPK and Balochistan, he said and added when the power in those areas is disconnected there people started attacking the grid stations.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heading a three-member bench, which heard the suo moto on severe loadshedding across the country, said: “I don’t understand when there is 30 per cent gap between the generation and requirement of power then why 50 per cent loadshedding is observed. This is the lack of cooperation and coordination between the NTDC and the distribution companies.”

The court said that electricity is supplied on alternate hour. It noted that no interest was shown by the administration to generate the power to the maximum level and due to their negligence the machines of the power plants have become out of order.

Engineer Razi-ud-Din that the Guddu power plant was burnt last month and caused a loss of Rs22 billion. But MD Pepco contradicted his saying and said that only the generator of machine was burnt and the loss they estimated is Rs220 million. Inquiry is being held to fix the responsibility.

Zargham told that three IPPs with the capacity of 300MW have gone in the litigation in the Singapore court. He said they had paid advance payment to them but their demand was to get more money.  Noman Wazir, a member of the Pesco, said line losses in KPK reduced as they had lessened the power supply to Bara areas where people were not paying their electricity bills. He said that such policy could be adopted in other non-paying areas.

Salman Akram Raja, representing All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, contended that due to loadshedding APTMA had laid off around 500,000 persons in Faisalabad. He said due to loadshedding Punjab is suffering the most than other provinces.

The Chief Justice asked why pre-paid system could not be introduced in power sector. The MD Pepco said that they had discussed this issue with the Asian Development Bank, which was ready to grant loan for the purpose. He said they have a plan to replace smart meters with the old ones.

The case was adjourned till 18th June 2013, so that the new Attorney General Munir A Malik could furnish a detailed report after holding consultation with all the stakeholders.