ISLAMABAD - Loadshedding hydra can’t be tamed if the mercury kept on rising – this was what water and power secretary told a displeased prime minister, who was understandably concerned at the political damage being incurred amid protests across the country over the issue.
Only days before the onset of the holy month, the government promised the people of reduced outages and uninterrupted supply of electricity during Sehr, Iftar and Taraveeh times. But the promise was broken the very first day of Ramazan when the national supply system simply failed to stand to the increased demand.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday received a briefing from Water and Power Secretary Younus Dagha on the power situation, particularly on the worst kind of outages on the first day of the holy month. In the briefing at the Prime Minister House, the secretary told the PM that unprecedented surge in the demand on that day compelled them to shed the load.
Dagha added situation could only be brought under control on reduction in power demand, tacitly expressing his ministry’s helplessness in managing the things. Premier Sharif however directed him to take all steps to immediately address the power situation so that the suffering of the people could be mitigated.
Though the secretary expressed his ministry’s inability to handle the situation if the power demand would continue to surge in the coming days, he assured the PM they would try to manage the things by sprucing up the supply system and better administration. The prime minister also directed the ministry to address the complaints at the earliest.
A couple of days back Cabinet Committee on Energy under the chair of prime minister had announced that there would be no loadshedding across the country at Sher, Iftar and Taraveeh times while the overall loadshedding schedule would remain same which is six hours for urban areas and eight hours for rural areas.
But all the claims of the government fell flat on the first day of Ramazan with long and unscheduled power outages across the major cities of the country, even during Sher, Iftar and Taraveeh times, forcing the people to come on roads and hold protests - some of which turned violent. The Premier had taken strict notice of all this and reprimanded water and power ministry bosses for their failure in handling the situation.
According to government insiders, the prime minister has also expressed his dissatisfaction over the preliminary report submitted by water and power secretary. Dagha’s report claimed that ministry was able to provide uninterrupted electricity to about 75 to 80 percent of areas in the country on the first day of Ramazan.
The report stated that there were difficulties in areas of Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) and Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco). It said that both companies had received a large number of complaints from residents of the areas. Citing the reason for power outages, the report said it was due to surge in mercury over the past two to three days which led to the increase in the electricity demand beyond 21,000MW.
In a statement issued by water and power ministry it was stated that the ministry has been able to improve the electricity supply situation and 93 percent urban and 86 percent rural areas have been provided uninterrupted electricity for Friday’s Iftar and Taraveeh and Saturday’s Sehri as per schedule. The ministry was making all out efforts to improve the situation and it would return to normal scheduled loadshedding during a day or so, it further stated.
The statement pointed out that the supply of electricity to Karachi was the responsibility of K-Electric and the federal ministry was supplying 650MW to Karachi despite difficulties and even after the expiry of the contract agreement only to alleviate the sufferings of the inhabitants of Karachi.
The electricity situation of the entire country is being monitored continuously except for system constraints. The federal complaint cell is also operating 24/7 for ratification of technical faults, it added. “Although there are high loss areas where our recovery is minimal and electricity theft is high, we are still trying to maintain optimum level of electricity supply considering the month of Ramzan,” it concluded.