I had planned to write this ST article on the health of the nation, but so much has been happening on the KESC front, that I have been compelled to give you an update on the health of KESC and this ailing City of Lights and its suffering citizens. After the forced twenty hours Black Out of the city last week, in which over five ICUs patient died in various hospitals in Karachi due to the power failure, our slumbering National Electric Power Regulatory Authority, NEPRA, has finally woken up to its obligations and responsibilities to the citizens of Pakistan. On June 20th, it issued a notice to the privatised power utility to, 'submit an explanation for last weeks major breakdown in the city within a weeks time. NEPRA has also charged KESC with 'repeatedly failing to satisfy its obligations to consumers, as enunciated under the NEPRA Act and Rules. The Charge Sheet states: 'Inadequate explanation on the part of the KESC could result in fines under NEPRA rules and action against the management of the KESC. It is also taking action separately against the KESC for violation of relevant sections of the NEPRA Act and Rules. According to experts of the power sector, NEPRA should also take notice as to why the under-frequency relays in the KESC system did not work and whether or not these relays were still operational and set according to required frequency. These relays are mainly installed to avoid such consequences. For the record, the 'NEPRA Mission Statement posted on its web site http://www.nepra.org.pk/ states: We shall strive to develop and pursue a Regulatory Framework, which ensures the provision of safe, reliable, efficient and affordable electric power to the electricity consumers of Pakistan - We shall facilitate the transition from a protected monopoly service structure, to a competitive environment and shall maintain a balance between the interests of the consumers. A very impressive and noble 'Mission Statement, only if it was not such a joke. NEPRA further claims to: 'The Authority shall establish a code of conduct for generation, transmission and distribution - Prescribe fines for contravention of the provisions of this Act - Before approving the tariff rates of electric power generating companies, the Authority shall hold public hearings -and most important of all, Protect the interests of consumers. First of all, one fails to understand as to why, despite regular protest and complaints from consumers, NEPRA insists on holding these hearing in Islamabad and not Karachi. And on examining the present power crisis in the country, the recent twenty hour break down in Karachi and the massive tariff increase, NEPRA has totally failed to enforce, implement or regulate KESC in all areas and has also failed to protect the interests of the consumers. In fact, for reasons of its own, it has favoured KESC at every stage and allowed the utility service a free hand, which has played havoc with the lives of the citizens and has crippled and paralysed this city and brought it to its knees. Our KESC 'Deep Throat informs us that the main problem with the KESC is not power generation, as there is sufficient power available, but because KESC is not running its own generation plants or asking the private power producing plants to run at full capacity, in order to save fuel and costs. At the same time, it has not invested in improving the Transmission & Distribution lines, as such the power loss due to power theft, line losses, mismanagement, etc. is over 40%, instead of the accepted loss of 10%. According to experts, KESCs management should work on a priority basis and invest to improve the transmission network and reduce the losses to at least 20%. This would automatically increase generation, which is paid for by the consumers, thus increasing cash flow and immediately increase revenues. Furthermore, according to 'DT, the two IPPs operating in Karachi are being forced to close down their units, as they have not been paid and their receivables now stand to over Rs. 5.50 billion. They will be unable to supply power to KESC due to their inability to buy fuel or meet their running expenses of the plants. The closure of IPPs will further aggravate the situation in Karachi and load shedding will be further increased, bringing more misery to the citizens of this city. Besides not investing in distribution lines, KESC has also not invested in spare parts and once the monsoons arrive in earnest, the City of Lights will be plunged into darkness again. Mr. Jan Abbas Saidi, CEO, Distribution, has tried to assure us that 'KESC has an inbuilt safety system to meet rain-related emergencies. It is also supposed to have safety systems for many other such emergencies, including storms, flooding, earthquakes, extreme heat, etc., but once again, according to 'DT, none of these so called safety systems are in place or functional. We are also being told by the powers that be, that load shedding will end by the end of this year. Well I have been hearing this Mantra every year in summer since 1998 and load shedding has not ended as yet. In fact, every year it has worsened. So forgive me if I dont jump for joy. As I had mentioned in my last article, if things are not put right soon and God forbid, if there is an emergency in Karachi again, then we would face serious problems and it would be the end of this city. And the tragedy is that, we, the educated and the privileged, including our honourable pillars of industry, business and society, who have the most to loose and moan and groan the most, refuse to take ownership of this city. We have abandoned this City of Lights and refuse to stand up and fight for its rights. We had circulated over three thousand emails and faxes, requesting citizens to participate in our petition against NEPRA and KESC, but the response has been pathetic. As our SOS reads, 'Pity the city whose breath is money and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed - Pity the people who allow their rights to erode and their freedoms to be washed away - Pity the city that can not spend Rs.1000 to save this 'City of Lights from plunging into darkness. As W Shakespeare had written, 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. Shame on us - Shame on this city. E-mail: trust@super.net.pk