LAHORE - The Power Distribution Companies (DISCOs) have increased the duration of electricity shutdowns up to 16 hours under the pretext of replacing power transmission lines and transformers, forcing the consumers to suffer outages of even 20 hours in rural localities, as they failed in finding respite despite heavy rainfall. Severe power outages were reported after every 60 minutes in different cities and towns of the country. Same is the case with the provincial capital where people, in most of the areas, complained that duration of power outages had increased to 16 hours instead of the announced schedule of eight hours. According to citizens, unprecedented and sudden increase in loadshedding hours have astound them as they were expecting that after the rain the excessive loadshedding would be reduced. They said the authorities in their efforts to keep the masses calm, attributed the current power crisis to multiple factors. The consumers further said that despite a change in weather conditions, they found no breathing space as prolonged and unannounced power breakdowns continued in all localities of the City. They said sometimes these spells reached the level of five to six hours without any break. According to Pepco, on July 12 total demand went up to 16,120 MW and resultantly a deficit of 2,566 MW was managed which was 3103 MW on the same date last year. Electricity export to KESC remained 700 MW, against 600 MW on corresponding day previous year. The Pepco further said during the hours of load management valuable consumers must try to understand the compulsions and adjust their daily life routine. It also said PEPCO regretted the inconvenience caused to worthy consumers and assures that concrete steps were being taken to over come this problem in near future. However, officials in Pepco told The Nation that according to their estimation a maximum 5 to 6 hours loadshedding is to be carried out in case of 2,500 MW shortfall. If Pepco was facing shortage of 2,500 MW only while carrying out loadshedding for more than 5 hours, it reflected either the mismanagement and ill-planning on the part of power distribution companies or scarcity of power was more than what was usually declared in the media, they added Meanwhile, electricity shutdown after every hour was reported in many areas of the metropolis including Cant, Muslim Town, Faisal Town, Samanabad, Model Town, Garden Town, Multan Road, Shahdara, Mozang, Walled City, Johar Town, Iqbal Town, Chohang, Mughalpura, Ravi Road and Sabzazar. The citizens of the said areas raised the question that when overall power generation was normal and no reduction were made in hydel or thermal power production why the power outages had increased. They criticised the government, which claimed to be committed to providing affordable and uninterrupted electricity supply to the people and mentioned that the government also said that the Pepco system was being made efficient to overcome the prevailing shortage. People asked the government whether it was the reverse impact of the directives that power distribution companies had increased the loadshedding to 16 hours, which was previously 12 to 14 hours.