The Lahore Electric Supply Company has disconnected power supply to all steel melting units located in its area, which consists of Sheikhupura, Kasur, Okrara and Lahore, initially for three days from Sunday to Wednesday.

“More than 80 steel melting furnaces, consuming about 400MW electricity have stopped production since Sunday afternoon and will remain closed till Wednesday,” stated Pakistan Steel Melters Association chairman Mian Saeed while talking to The Nation here on Monday.

“The Lesco officials have informed us of this power supply suspension to steel industry on the plea that Lesco demand has reached around 5000MW while supply from national grid is just 2500MW. The PM has directed the DISCOs to improve power supply to domestic consumers to minimize loadshedding,” Mian Saeed said quoting the Lesco officials.

It is also unfortunate that despite power supply diversion from industry no improvement regarding laodshedding in domestic area has been seen due to lack of management and corruption of the Lesco officials.

The recent reports have revealed that Lesco high officials including its chief have been providing additional supply to some industries on huge commissions, depriving the domestic consumers of their right.

Mian Saeed said that industry was already operating for only 12 hours a day for the last six years due to energy crisis and whenever energy crisis worsens the steel melting industry is forced to face to power suspension for one week to one month.

“It was Musharraf era when the industry was being supplied electricity for at least 20 hours a day.”

More than 16000 employees will be affected as every furnace hires around 200 persons while 50,000-70,000 indirect employment will be affected due to power supply suspension.”

“The closure of industry due to suspension of electricity would deprive millions of workers attached with steel sector which would cause unrest in the country. It is very surprising that at one side the government is trying to create opportunities of employment and on the other hand it is adopting policies which are depriving employed persons of their joba. This is anti-industry policy and even is not in favour of the government itself.”

It is submitted that closure of power supply to the steel melting units has also resulted in total closure of 28 dependent industries to whom raw material is being provided. These industries include agricultural implements, sewing machines, surgical instruments, tractor spares, power looms, electric fan & appliances, light engineering, housing & construction etc.

The PSMA chief urged the concerned high-ups to save the industry of Punjab from total disaster and also save millions of workers and their families from starvation.

He said that industry in Punjab is passing through a crisis-like situation due to unavailability of electricity and gas that is a prime raw material for the steel sector.

Mian Saeed said that it was very unfortunate that steel industry in Punjab has no electricity while gas is being provided for round about one day a week while situation in other parts of the country is quite different.

He pointed out that element of discrimination in electricity and gas supply to the Punjab must be stopped and distribution of gas supply must be in accordance with the size of industry and not according to the area of province.

“When the industry in Punjab is paying a considerable amount of revenue to the exchequer, its protection is also the responsibility of federal government.”