The country has been hit by the worst kind of gas and power shortage in years and everyone is suffering on account of it. The facts of the matter are as follows; (1) The water level in the reservoirs of our large dams has gone down due to insufficient rains in the catchments areas. With the little water that is still stored in them we can either continue generating limited power and save more for irrigation purposes when the season comes or deplete the reservoirs completely now by generating full blast power and have no water left for the crops when needed. (2) Almost 80% of the thermal power generation capacity amounting to 2,500 MWs is lying idle as the IPPs have no funds to pay for the furnace oil needed to run their power plants. The government owes them huge amounts which are not being released to them on one pretext or the other. Either they must be paid their dues immediately or at least supplied with the furnace oil on credit to run their power plants. Industry is the worst hit which, in turn, is badly affecting the national economy. Production is frightfully reduced affecting exports, a problem that aggravates further the already alarming state of our foreign exchange holdings. Workers are being perforce laid off, causing great hardship to low-income families that are sustained by men working as industrial labour. On the top of it, the tariff rates for the electricity and gas are being increased every now and then causing brewing of resentment against the government among the masses. -COL. (Retd) RIAZ JAFRI, Rawalpindi, via e-mail, January 4.