ISLAMABAD/LAHORE  -  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed the Ministry of Water and Power to show zero tolerance towards power theft and speed up recovery of dues.

Chairing a meeting here at Prime Minister’s House on Monday, Premier Nawaz directed the ministry that all measures be taken to ensure consumers suffer minimum possible inconvenience in summer particularly during the holy month of Ramazan.

Besides Federal Minister for Water and Power Kh Mohammad Asif, his junior Abid Sher Ali, Federal Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rasheed and officials of Ministry of Water and Power were also in attendance.

The meeting discussed issues relating to electricity supply and the strategy adopted by Ministry of Water and Power to deal with the power load-shedding in summer.

The PM was briefed about electricity theft, performance of power distribution companies (Discos) and matter relating to the power supply bills and the piling up of outstanding electricity dues.

It was also decided that a comprehensive energy conservation plan should be developed and executed in consultation with all stakeholders including traders, manufacturers and retailers to save electricity. 

Meanwhile, after getting a green signal from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali is set to start a vigorous campaign against defaulters and power pilferers.

Abid Sher briefed the premier that after April, water reserves will be full and power generation from hydel will reach 6,000 megawatt. He said this summer load shedding would not exceed eight hours except in areas with high default rates.

On PM’s directions Abid Sher held a meeting with bosses of power distribution companies and told them to enhance their efforts to make recoveries.

Distribution companies’ heads were also told that their performance would be monitored on weekly basis and anyone who failed to show results would have to face the consequences.

Also on Monday, the SNGPL disconnected gas supply to Prime Minister Secretariat, Parliament Lodges, Convention Centre, Federal Shariat Court, Governor House Murree and other government offices over non-payment of dues.

It was the second major raid of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited against defaulters in Rawalpindi division and Islamabad a week after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s direction to take strict action against the non-payers of the gas bills.

Two days earlier, the company had disconnected the gas supply to provincial ministers’ houses, top police offices and other main government bureaus. In Monday’s operation, the SNGPL disconnected gas supply over unpaid bills worth Rs4.7 million.

According to an SNGPL spokesperson, Parliament House has dues worth Rs1.3 million, PM Secretariat 4.7 million, Convention Centre 9.1million, Parliament Lodges Rs0.77 million, Federal Shariat Court Rs0.224 million and Governor House Murree Rs0.18 million. All the defaulters were sent repeated notices but there was no positive reply, the spokesperson said.

Interestingly, PM Nawaz had chaired a high-level meeting on April 23 regarding the overall electricity and gas distribution system where he had ordered strict action against electricity pilferers and bill defaulters. He had directed authorities to show no-tolerance against defaulters including government installations and offices.

Furthermore, due to non-payment of dues, the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) on Monday suspended the power supply to street lights and traffic signals across the capital city.

The power company suspended electricity to 17 public sector and semi-government departments, including the headquarters of the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

The Film Censor Board, office of the Anti-Narcotics Force, the Pakistan Public Works Department, the National Training Bureau, the government college in Sector F-7 and a cricket ground in Sector G-6 were also among the institutions whose power supply was suspended.

With the suspension of power to the city’s traffic signals, the federal capital’s traffic wardens will have to work harder to maintain the flow of traffic.