LAHORE -

Looming power problem has worsened water woes across the country. Up to 16-hour power cuts have plagued Punjab while the other provinces, except KPK, have been facing loadshedding.

Lesco, Fesco, Gepco and Iesco (power distribution companies for Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and Islamabad) are under the grip of severe shortage and they are getting around 40 per cent of electricity from the national grid.

Reportedly, new unannounced spells of loadshedding by the Karachi Electricity Supply Company (KESC) has compelled citizens to spend sleepless nights as many areas plunged into darkness for three to four hours at night. However, the KESC already announced eight-hour loadshedding in the metropolis due to consistently low gas supply from SSGC. In some parts of the city, unannounced load shedding continues for at least 10 to 12 hours.

Protest against the unannounced load shedding continued throughout the night in various localities. The KESC blamed limited gas supply for increased loadshedding as water becomes scarce in some areas. KESC officials said that until gas supply was limited the electricity production would also be limited as the situation was likely to continue.

On April 10, the Punjab government decided to observe two weekly holidays and urged the federal government to convene a meeting of the Council of Common Interests to tackle the problem of loadshedding in the province.

In Islamabad, the caretaker prime minister ordered the finance ministry to immediately release Rs20 billion to ensure a smooth fuel supply to thermal power plants. Mir Hazar Khan Khoso issued the directive at a meeting held to review working of power generation plants in the country.

The meeting was convened after the prime minister took cognisance of media reports about excessive loadshedding. He asked the ministries concerned to thrash out short- and medium-term plans to solve the problem.

Moreover, water scarcity has been rubbing salt onto wounds. In Lahore, out-of-order tubewells and lack of fuel have been reported while the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) has been dragging its feet over the matter, though caretaker chief Minister has repeatedly directed the agency to ensure the supply.

Mozang, Sanda, Samanabad, Gulshan-e-Ravi, Shahdara and Bund Road areas have been facing acute shortage of potable water. In these areas, water is being supplied at night.

Top officials cited unannounced loadshedding as reason for the water woes while their subordinates complained of irregular fuel supply for generators. A tubewell operator, seeking anonymity, said the agency had fallen short of fuel. Moreover, the authorities have not been heeding to repair out-of-order tubewells, leaving people in the lurch, he added. Fuel theft by officials has also been reported in the agency but the high-ups have never bothered to take action against the culprits.

When contacted, Wasa Operation DMD Iqtidar Shah said the agency had been receiving complains about irregular supply. However, he claimed that the agency had been looking into the matter.  The DMD said loadshedding had been hampering supply while fuel issue would be resolved in summer. “We will increase fuel supply for the generators in coming,” he added.

About the fuel theft by officials, the department had appointed directors had been tasked to keep check over the problem. According to him, a strategy was devised after some theft cases surfaced. Under this plan, a team of directors and executive engineers would remain alert round the clock to ensure supply of fuel for generators so that regular water supply could be ensured.

In the federal capital, sectors I-10/1 and I-10/2 were worst hit by water scarcity.

In the face of acute water shortfall, the residents have to make long queues outside the inquiry office to get water share.