Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif announced the other day that without increasing the rates of electricity, the shortfall cannot be bridged. His explanation that the poor segment of society would not be affected is hard to sell, since in all conscience they are the first to fall prey to any such fluctuation.But this particular approach smacks of the way the previous government had been running the show; the results are quite obvious. The bills are an invariable nightmare that eats up a good part of the monthly budget of a middle income consumer. The increases have been made so often that the present scale of rates is totally unjustified. Granted the government has promised to pay the circular debt in a short span of time, it should know that the tariffs are as much a phantom as the loadshedding itself. It is like giving from one hand and taking back from the other. Protests are common in parts of the country; some of the demonstrations are against the excessive billing. If the idea is to pay off the circular debt but continue raising the tariffs every few weeks, this is not the kind of solution we need. Imagine the quandary of those who sometimes receive bills that are more than their average earnings. That has happened because those running the power ministry have not been sensitive to the effects their shenanigans register on the masses. The people have had enough; it stands to reason that the tariffs are reduced in phases. The authorities in charge of the power sector that includes Wapda, Pepco and others should instead be asked to prevent line losses, electricity theft and rampant corruption so as to lead the people out of the riddle. Khawaja Asif has to use his brain as well rather than counting on the advice that is forced on him. A reason why energy experts keep urging the government to go for the Hydel energy is that with it, the electricity will be affordable. With Kalabagh Dam we can have a unit’s price reduced to Rs 1.2. The fallout consumers as well as the economy suffer each year in the absence of this hydropower project, according to ex-chairman Wapda Shamsul Mulk is a whooping Rs 132 billion.Khawaja Asif ought not to fritter his energies on remedies that have been already put to trial only to leave disastrous impact. What he should look for is to dispense much needed respite from the plague that has jolted every sphere of life. The idea of raising the tariffs as means towards alleviating the blackouts will be met with mass resentment and disappointment. And also it would plunge the countrymen into the same kind of vicious circle they thought the new breed of leaders would salvage.