Lawmakers say power sector staff involved in corruption

ISLAMABAD – Government and opposition lawmakers Wednesday unanimously deplored performance of power sector alleging that employees of the sector were involved in corrupt practices.

Parliamentarians from PML-N and JUI-F staged a walkout from the meeting of National Assembly committee on energy to protest stoppage of funds, execution and inauguration of gas schemes. During the meeting, PTI MNA Asad Omer said all three MNA’s from Islamabad needed to stage protest against ministry of energy.

In the National Assembly Standing Committee on Energy meeting, which was chaired by MNA Imran Khattak, the parliamentarians from both government and opposition benches alleged that federal minister for energy was not paying heed to their issues.

The members from PML-N were of the view that previous government had approved gas schemes during its tenure and 80 per cent work on these schemes had been completed.

They said the work on these schemes had also been halted now in their constituencies and funds for these projects were not being released. They further said that PTI lawmakers were inaugurating some of their schemes.

Energy Minister Omar Ayub said that it was domain of the federal government that any executive could inaugurate these schemes.

The PML-N lawmakers protested over stoppage of funds for their projects. Murtaza Javed Abassi said the PTI government had not released funds for their projects.

”Funds have been stopped even for those projects where 80 percent work is complete, while funds are being provided to the constituencies of PTI parliamentarians,” said MNA Muhammad Barjees Tahir.

As a protest against PTI government and minister for power’s behavior, MNAs from PML-N and JUI-F boycotted committee’s proceedings. They alleged PTI government of bulldozing the standing committees.

Federal Minister for Power Omer Ayub Khan said that all schemes will be completed.

Secretary Power informed the committee that officials of power sector and some parliamentarians were involved in power theft.

PTI MNA Noor Alam Khan said that parliamentarians were not criminals because criminals were sitting in the power sector.

Criticising the energy minister, Noor Alam Khan said, “I visited office of federal minister for energy but he didn’t meet me. He is also not attending my calls”. “You are MNA and I am also MNA,” he said.

Deploring performance of PTI government, MNA Noor Alam Khan said some faults were willfully created in electricity supply and questioned what the ministry was doing to stop this exercise? If we will not bring change then who will bring do that?” he said.

PML-N MNA Murtaza Abbasi said he sent 13 messages to minister but he didn’t reply.”I also called secretary power but in vain,” he added.

Omer Ayub said he was always present at office but he might not be able to respond to whatsapp messages.

PTI MNA Asad Omer asked why it was required for IESCO and SNGPL to take permission from CDA for power and gas connections.CDA was not the regulator of these both entities and if the regulators didn’t have any objection over the connections then why they needed the CDA directives, he questioned.

“We are members of parliament and we are not coming here for begging,” Asad Omer said. “We are not in opposition but we are frustrated. All the three MNAs from Islamabad should consider staging a sit-in at D Chowk.” The minister for energy Omer Ayub Khan said that you start sit-in at my office. 

Asad Omer alleged that IESCO didn’t want to resolve issues. IESCO was making money out of the situation, he added.

PPP MNA Shazia Marri said in Sindh the Discos officials were charging consumers for replacing transformers. The minister for energy said that it was illegal to charge consumers for transformer replacement. Officials taking bribes for change of transformer will be given exemplary punishment, the minister added.

Omer Ayub told the committee that theft of electricity has considerably been reduced in the country. Eighty percent electric feeders had been cleared of power theft and work was in progress to clear the remaining feeders.

K-Electric (KE) informed the committee that cable network and water sewerage system were major factors behind deaths during rains in Karachi.

Briefing the committee, KE CEO Moonis Alvi said majority of incidents either occurred inside homes because of faulty wiring or the unsafe use of electrical equipment, non-KE infrastructure such as kundas, TV/Internet cables illegally encroached on power installations and hanging lights were beyond control of the KE.

He said 33 deaths were reported. Out of them, 11 deaths occurred inside houses due to internal wiring faults whereas 18 incidents were due to Kunda or TV cable network. He said sewerage system of Karachi was also a factor in this regard. He said FIRs were registered.

He further said that KE had removed thousands of Kundas and illegal wiring, besides serving warnings through mass awareness campaigns and public/legal notices where applicable. However, reemergence of such wires and Kundas remains a critical social challenge and could only be resolved through support of all stakeholders.

About blackouts, he said KE system was also reliant on national grid and stoppage of electricity supply from national grid also caused tripping in the system resulting in blackouts in Karachi.

Chief Distribution Officer KE Amir Zia said that Karachi Electric had 30,000 kilometer network and this network had 100,000 kilometer network of cable operators. He said that they had written to PEMRA to take notice in this regard. “We disconnect cable network, they disconnect our network,” he added. The committee was also informed that KE had added 1000 MW power generation in the system during last few years.

However, Shazia Marri from PPP got annoyed over holding the Sindh government responsible for poor water sewerage system in Karachi. Federal Minister for Energy said that Sindh government should ensure effective measures for drainage of rainwater in Karachi.

The parliamentary body directed K-Electric to appear before the committee to brief it regarding the unfortunate accidents which occurred in Karachi during the recent rains and investment made during the past.

The committee was dissatisfied with the briefing given by the authorities of K-Electric on deaths caused during resent torrential rains in Karachi. The committee asked NEPRA to submit a detailed report on this issue.

 

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